Having first been played in the 1800s, cricket has been a part of Indian culture for hundreds of years. Today, it is the most popular sport by far and is played in all regions of the country.
But in today’s globally-connected society, cricket isn’t the only game occupying interests in India. In this article, we will explore some of the other sports that have grown in popularity since the turn of the century.
Recognised as a globally-loved game, football’s status as the world’s most popular sport is difficult to dispute. FIFA estimates that there are a total of 250m fans enjoying the game worldwide, and awareness of the sport in India is growing.
The rise of sports betting in India is providing a new platform for fans in India to engage with football. It is now possible to bet on many of the biggest games across the globe, with services like BettingGuru providing a bespoke guide to the websites available for Indian players and fans alike.
In addition to having access to bettors, Elite European competitions like the Premier League, Bundesliga, and La Liga are more accessible than ever to Indian audiences. Local sports networks broadcast many games live, while social media channels like Twitter and Facebook offer fans the chance to instantly connect with their favourite teams.
It is the increased availability games and bets, teamed with inclusion of Indian audiences, that has increased India’s love of football.
With prize pots regularly exceeding millions of dollars, eSports is a modern-day phenomenon. Pitting the world’s best gamers against one another, the biggest eSports events are watched by huge audiences, both live in arenas and online.
Recent estimates suggest that the Indian eSports industry is already worth $818m, which is impressive considering the country’s relatively late arrival to the party. India is already ranked number 17 in the industry which clearly demonstrates India’s passion and commitment to developing within the sector.
The introduction of mobile games like PUBG has played a key role in the growth in popularity of eSports in India. Furthermore, PUBG Continental Series 3 is hotly anticipated by fans across Asia, Europe, and North America. The far-reaching appeal of PUBG speaks volumes about its innovative nature and passionate fans.
It’s fairly safe to assume that eSports in India has the potential to captivate new audiences for generations to come.
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— airtel India (@airtelindia) October 10, 2020
Professional wrestling is also growing in popularity in India. Officially recognised as ‘sports entertainment’ in America, professional wrestling combines athleticism with theatre and has wowed audiences globally for generations.
However, it’s during the last ten years that the genre of entertainment has truly grown in prominence in India, technological advances that have played a key role in this. The increase in social media activity has been helping fans across Asia stay up to date with the latest news.
The industry’s market-leading brand, WWE – formerly WWF – offers a growing choice of local language content, including Hindi commentary for big events, and original programming in addition to social media channels targeted at Indian audiences.
Like many global brands, WWE recognises the potential of the Indian market and is investing growing amounts in nurturing its presence here.
— WWE (@WWEIndia) October 9, 2020
Although cricket remains India’s number one sport, there is an exciting number of other modern sports growing in popularity in the country. With social media figures rising all the time, it will be very interesting to keep track of what new sports Indian audiences will be exposed to and which become the most popular.