With India being a cricket-loving nation, it is tough for other sports to gain prominence, but the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) has defied odds and its growing status is an indicator of its popularity.
After a brief hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 8th season of the PKL is set to return later this year.
PKL 2021 is scheduled to be conducted in the July-October window this year. Marshal Sports CEO and PKL Commissioner Anupam Goswami confirmed the news in a chat with the Indian Express.
"The natural window for Pro Kabaddi is the monsoon months – broadly June to October. We want to conduct Season 8 in that window," said Goswami.
Decision on allowing fans to attend PKL games yet to be taken
Anupam Goswami stated that the organizers are yet to decide whether to allow the fans into the stadiums for the PKL. With a lot of time still left before the tournament begins, he said that a decision would be taken as the government regulations evolve.
"We will learn from other situations. We still have four months to go. The nature of government regulations will also evolve, but we will look to be very safe."
PKL, which is the second biggest league in India in terms of television viewership, is set to conduct an open media rights auction. This will be for PKL seasons 8-12, which will be held between 2021 and 2025.
Star India was the broadcast partner for the first seven seasons of the league. However, a new broadcast partner is likely to purchase the rights at the auction, which will be held next month.
Goswami seemed to be pleased with the league's ever-growing fanbase over the years. During the interview, he spoke about the viewership for the 7th season of the league.
"Season 7 ended with 328 million viewers and 71 billion minutes of watch time. In a land of big numbers, these are exceptional numbers for a new sport," said Goswami.
The PKL started in 2014 with just 8 teams. However, with the growing popularity of the league, 4 more franchises were created. The Bengal Warriors, who won the tournament for the first time in 2019, will enter the upcoming season as the defending champions.