BLOG | by Joseph Eapen

Plenty of space for sports beside cricket in Indian sports market

PKL gives IPL run for its money but many other sports have good visibility

New figures released today by YouGov Sport/SMG Insight show that awareness of Indian domestic sporting properties is blossoming, with 13 different leagues or tournaments being familiar to at least 10% of the Indian population.

Amidst a backdrop of blanket coverage, it is no surprise that the Indian Premier League (IPL) performs best with more than three-quarters of respondents aware of it. But hard on its heels, despite the high profile of soccer this winter, is the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL), with 62% awareness – a performance that will surprise many outside the country, given the league’s relative youth (PKL is approaching its sixth season, compared to the IPL which has just completed its 11th).

Today’s data publication is part of a series of pieces of research which YouGov/SMG Insight is conducting into the Indian sports market. The insight will also take in data on India’s favourite teams and athletes.

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Other notable results in the top ten are the Indian Super League, with an awareness of 43%, the now postponed Hockey India League, Pro-Wrestling League and the Premier Badminton League – all of whom rate 25% or higher for awareness.

For almost all of these leagues, awareness translates to viewing too – with nine of the top ten for awareness also featuring in the top ten for viewing (the I League is the unlucky loser here). The top six properties were all watched by in excess of one in ten of our respondents, with the IPL and PKL head and shoulders above other properties at 71% and 46% respectively.

Sports administrators should be encouraged by the results. There is a view that other sports are being stifled by the dominance of cricket in India but these results show that there is plenty of room for everyone in the domestic market.

This data shows that Indians have an appetite for a wide range of sports – and that there are large markets for kabaddi, football, hockey and others, which could grow even larger given the right strategies.

There’s no one who can challenge the might of the IPL just yet but its success isn’t overshadowing the profile of others – these results tell us that hundreds of millions have watched the Indian Super League, for example.

There’s also room for new properties too. One in ten people are aware of a competition like the Ultimate Table Tennis League, despite it only being two seasons old. So there’s plenty of space for innovation here in India.

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Joseph has 20 years’ experience in marketing research and media measurement.  He joined SMG Insight from Repucom where he was SVP South Asia. Prior to that, he was at Media Research Users Council (MRUC), an industry body in India, where he was CEO and responsible for the Indian Readership Survey 2010 (the largest readership study in the world). He was previously the CEO of aMap, the second largest overnight TV ratings company in the world.



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