Game on: How much is PKL worth? Rs 200 crore?

Kabaddi generated Rs. 122 crore in 2016, up from Rs. 48 crore in 2015

e4m by Abhinn Shreshtha
Updated: Aug 3, 2017 7:38 AM

The Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) has hit the nail on the head to make Kabaddi a household name across India. In what could be termed as a surprising (and pleasant) success story with the humble local sport now gaining an aura of coolth, PKL has given India a sport other than cricket to look forward to on TV. And as PKL kicked off its fifth season on July 28, 2017, there seems to be no doubt that it will continue to pay rich dividends to the players, franchise owners and Star India, which owns a controlling majority stake of 74 per cent in PKL founder Marshall Sports.

According to a source, season 5 of PKL would generate close to Rs. 200 crore in revenue, up from around Rs. 85 crore that it earned last year. An industry observer commented that not considering sponsorship revenues, Star Sports could rake anywhere between Rs 130 to Rs 140 crore this season.

Another source claimed that the channel has already booked TV ad revenue of Rs 1.5 crore so far and is looking at another Rs 1 crore by the end of the league. We tried contacting Star India for their comments but had not received a reply to our email at the time of writing of this article.

We spoke to media planners who said that the channel is selling ad spots at the rate of around Rs. 1.5-1.6 lakh/10 seconds compared to Rs. 1 lakh/10 seconds for the previous edition. One planner informed us that for getting Aston bands along with an ad spot, advertisers would need to shell out above Rs. 2 lakh.

“The matches are just for 40 minutes so advertising inventory is limited to three slots; pre match, half time and post match which leads to limited inventory as compared to a sport like cricket. Also, in cricket, you have the opportunity to show at least 8 Aston bands while for Kabaddi the number would be around 2-3,” informed another planner.

According to media reports, Star Sports has claimed that sponsorship revenue for Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) has risen 320 per cent and number of advertisers has increased three times for the fifth season.

Speaking about revenue potential of the PKL, Ashish Bhasin, Chairman & CEO South Asia Dentsu Aegis Network, said, “Even though these new sports leagues are growing, cricket still accounts for nearly 85 per cent of ad spends. I would expect PKL 5’s advertising revenues to increase by 10-15 per cent over last year.”  

The fourth edition of GroupM ESP’s Sporting Nation in The Making report states that on ground sponsorship for Kabaddi grew 154 per cent in 2016, making it the No.2 sport in India in terms of revenue earned. The sport generated Rs. 122 crore in 2016, up from Rs. 48 crore in 2015.

“PKL's format is very short, sleek and engaging. League is marketed very well and has generated local interest since it creates local, homegrown heroes. Sponsorship packages are built with compelling on-ground and on-air inventory that helps build ROI for brands. It is a sport of the heartland and has great entertainment value. With 4 more teams this season live action in tier 1 and tier 2 cities will be increased and will have more reasons to cheer for their favourite team,” said Vinit Karnik, ‎Business Head (Entertainment, Sports & Live Events) at GroupM.

The latest season of PKL will feature 12 teams, four more than the previous season and will feature 138 matches spread over 13 weeks. In May, Chinese handset maker Vivo had signed a five-year deal with PKL as its title sponsor. The value of the deal is rumoured to be in the range of Rs. 275-300 crore.

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