In the last few years Kabaddi has gained traction amid sports fans and majority of the credit goes to Pro Kabaddi League (PKL), a professional-level Kabaddi league which was launched in 2014.
But there's more to Kabaddi than just PKL, believes Arvind Sivdas who along with Suhail Chandhok started KabaddiAdda, a platform that offers all type of sports content on Kabaddi.
Both the founders of the platform have a penchant for sports. While Sivdas is an amateur triathlete and WaterPolo player, Chandhok was with the Indian Premier League (IPL) team Royal Challengers Bangalore in 2009 and 10. Chandhok is currently a TV presenter for sports properties like IPL, PKL, among others.
Talking about KabaddiAdda, Sivdas said, "We started with YouTube channel with content on player interviews, how to play Kabaddi and match highlights. The channel currently has 320,000 subscribers and last year overall we had 37 million viewers on different channels including WhatsApp, (KabaddiAdda) website, YouTube, Instagram and Facebook."
Citing the above data, Sivdas pointed out that there is viewership for the sport but it is the connecting platform that is lacking.
"There is three months of Kabaddi that is showcased every year and rest of the year there is so much Kabaddi happening but there is no information on it. Player stories don't get aggregated. So, we saw that the fans are there for the sport but there is no connecting link."
This is the need gap that Sivdas said KabaddiAdda is trying to fill.
The platform which is getting 1.5 million views every month even in COVID-19 times, noted Sivdas, is not only aggregating content but is also creating content.
One way is through making coaching videos. "We have got five to six coaches and every coach has their own way of approaching the same problem. So, we are going to aggregate this into some form of university going forward as young players are looking for content on training," said Sivdas.
In addition, the platform is organizing Kabaddi tournaments and streaming them on the website to keep the viewers engaged throughout the year.
KabaddiAdda has launched K7, India’s premier professional junior kabaddi tournament under which it has so far organized the K7 qualifiers which streamed on the website.
"There were 24 games that were played during K7 qualifiers in Haryana under the aegis of Amateur Kabaddi Association Haryana (AKAH). And the four day event registered 750,000 views overall. We had partnered with Dream11 for the tournament. And even PKL members had their teams for the qualifiers," said Sivdas.
He pointed out statistics of another sport which is making him confident about K7. "Look at NBA (National Basketball Association), it gets 75 percent of viewership for college events. So, we are aiming for the same with K7 which is built as an event for junior Kabaddi players."
After the qualifiers, KabaddiAdda will create second event called K7 Stageup which will take place between May and June this year where 10 selected academies and three to four invitational academies will play during the tournament.
"Then comes K7 Nationals. The first season of K7 will be in October-November," said Sivdas.
In terms of venues for K7 Nationals, Sivdas said that the tournament will move to three cities. However, the markets are not yet finalized.
Along with K7 tournaments, the platform streamed Senior National Kabaddi Championship which took place between April 13-16.
In 2019, the platform had covered 30 Kabaddi events.
So, now along with PKL Kabaddi fans will have a calendar to enjoy throughout the year. And this is what is making Sivdas confident about KabaddiAdda.
He said that interest in Kabaddi has grown by 14 percent year-over-year since 2015, according to a Nielsen Sports 2018 report. And majority of the interest for the sport is due to PKL.
With more matches and tournaments available to sports enthusiasts, Sivdas believes that it will help Kabaddi grow as a sport.