The words possibly associated with Kabaddi a few years back would be ‘traditional’ and a sport with deep roots but possibly not that relevant to today’s youth. Its amazing how with interventions like the Pro Kabaddi League (Season 5 being the just concluded with the handle #VivoProKabaddi) the complexion of the sport has been transformed into something buzzing and modern with a strong youth connect.
In fact, a key catalyst has also been the fact that the indigenous sport has been able to engage the modern youth on social media in a huge manner. The recently concluded VivoProKabaddi Season 5 had more than 85 million social engagements (views, likes, shares, mentions). What stands out is that the major chunk of the social conversations came from the top 10 cities contributing to more than 85% fan base on social media. The active audience was majorly below the age of 30 years.
A contributory factor to the sports growing connect is the strong geographical spread of the premier tournament. This year four new teams were added to the league from Chennai, Gujarat, Haryana, and UP.
A lot of social chatter was about discussing moves during game play and sharing scores / records, along with discussion about top players in Kabaddi. This shows that in addition to the popularity, there is also a greater understanding and appreciation of the various nuances of the game. The Kabaddi players really have significant fan followings with the likes of Pardeep Narwal, Rohit Kumar & Surender Nada really standing out. Pardeep Narwal earned himself the nickname “Dubki King” because of his trademark move, which is a cross between a duck and dive to avoid a defender.
One of the key things engaging the masses across the country is the added pull of Pro Kabaddi attracting many celebrities from Bollywood, Cricket and some Business tycoons as well. These included mega stars like Sachin Tendulkar, Amitabh Bachchan, Abhishek Bachchan and Akshay Kumar. With all this excitement the big brands are also in the thick of things led of course by Vivo which has used this platform to connect strongly with the youth There were many other sponsors who joined Pro Kabaddi League like – TVS, Bajaj Electricals, Mutual Funds Sahi Hai and Gillette. The brands had many exciting activations to drive their core marketing objectives on social and also integrated across air and on ground.
It is encouraging to see that the youth, sponsors, and celebrities across the country are all excited and connecting with the sport which has catapulted it into another trajectory all together.
(Rahul Saighal, MD Netimpact- Netimpact Solutions Pvt Ltd has an expertise in Social Analytics and ORM and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)