The Indian sport of kabaddi has received a major boost with Chinese mobile company Vivo signing a five-year deal worth Rs 300 crore ($46.7 million) to sponsor the game’s popular league.
Pro Kabaddi has held its own among the myriad professional sporting leagues to emerge in the wake of the lucrative and hugely successful Indian Premier League Twenty20 cricket tournament in 2008.
Kabaddi attracts impressive viewer ratings in a competitive market dominated by cricket, but where smaller shares are fiercely contested by other popular sports leagues including badminton and hockey.
“This association is important for us as Pro Kabaddi league has reached incredible heights and now proudly stands as one of the most successful leagues in India,” Vivo India CEO Kent Cheng said.
Vivo, who are also title sponsors of the IPL, is not the first Chinese smartphone manufacturer to enter the massive Indian sporting market. Oppo this year replaced Star India to become the major sponsor of India’s hugely popular national cricket side.
Star India, and its broadcaster Star Sports, already backs the Pro Kabaddi as it moves into its fifth edition with 12 teams duelling it out over more than 130 matches.
“Vivo coming on board as the title sponsor is a significant milestone in the growth story of the league. Star Sports will continue its efforts to elevate the stature of the sport further,” Star India managing director Sanjay Gupta said.
Kabaddi, which originated in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, was first included in the Asian Games in 1990 in Beijing. India has won every gold in the event since then.