With 320% jump in sponsorship revenue, PKL season 5 hits a new high

PKL will now be India’s biggest sports league with geographical representation across 11 states, 12 franchises and 138 matches across 13 weeks. The investment of Rs 300 crore by Chinese handset maker VIVO is making things even better

e4m by Ruhail Amin
Updated: Jul 28, 2017 7:42 AM

The Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) is witnessing a rather phenomenal growth.  Over the last 4 seasons, PKL has been synonymous with packed stadiums as well as record viewership, emerging as a benchmark of sorts for sports leagues in India. With four new teams joining the existing eight teams, it is now India’s biggest sports league with geographical representation across 11 states, 12 franchises and 138 matches across 13 weeks.

Since its launch in 2014, the league has transformed the sport into an aspirational one for players and fans alike. The tournament has succeeded in creating a holistic and sustainable ecosystem for Kabaddi with each successive season witnessing a significant in-stadium attendance growth, rise in television viewership and digital reach amongst rural and urban audience.

Taking things far higher, starting 2017, Chinese handset maker Vivo Electronics has acquired the title sponsorship rights for the Pro Kabaddi League for a period of five years. The deal is valued at Rs 300 crore. The overall PKL season 5 sponsorship income has increased by 320%, which is more than four times.

The four new teams Gujarat Fortune Giants, Haryana Steelers, Tamil Thalaivas and UP Yoddha along with Patna Pirates, Bengal Warriors, Puneri Paltan, Dabang Delhi K.C., Telugu Titans, Bengaluru Bulls, Jaipur Pink Panthers and U Mumba will battle in 138 matches across 13 weeks, to win the coveted title.

Here is a detailed look at the teams and the sponsors this year:

UP Yoddha

Stepping into the field of Kabaddi, GMR Group bought the Lucknow based franchise, which is all set to debut in the fifth season of VIVO Pro Kabaddi League. The team would operate under GMR League Games Private Limited. Nitin Tomar was bagged for a whopping Rs. 93 lakh, the highest bid in the history of the league.

The team has roped in Tata Motors as its official sponsor.

Jaipur Pink Panthers

The Champions of the inaugural season of Star Sports Pro Kabaddi, Jaipur Pink Panthers represent the Pink City of Jaipur, Rajasthan. Coached by Kasinathan Baskaran, the team is owned by actor, Abhishek Bachchan.

Jaipur Pink Panthers have roped in Jio Chat as the principal sponsor for this season. The team has also retained Shakti Pumps as one of the jersey sponsors.

Bengaluru Bulls

Bengaluru Bulls, the Bangalore based franchise of the Pro Kabaddi, is owned by the Kosmik Media Group. The team that finished in the top 4 last year is coached by Randhir Singh, an Arjuna Awardee. The team has roped in sponsors like the Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd, agri brand Golden Harvest, low-cost airline Air Asia India and family networking application, Life360.

Haryana Steelers

Haryana Steelers is one of the 4 new franchises to enter VIVO Pro Kabaddi Season 5. JSW Sports Pvt. Ltd. acquired the franchise, which will be based out of Haryana. The team will be coached by Ranbir Singh Khokhar, who brings 35 years of rich Kabaddi experience and has represented India in international tournaments.

The franchise has signed with Kent RO and Exide Industries’ Dynex Batteries as principal sponsors and Valvoline as associate sponsor. It has also roped in apparel brand 4U as their kit partner and two e-commerce websites, Overcart and Purplle have joined hands with the franchisee as partners.

Bengal Warriors

Owned by the Future Group, Bengal Warriors is led by Nilesh Shinde and is coached by Pratap Shetty. Future Group operates through three listed entities - Future Retail Limited, Future Lifestyle Fashions Limited and Future Consumer Enterprise Limited.


Dabang Delhi K.C.

Dabang Delhi K.C. is owned by Radha Kapoor’s DoIT Sports Management (India) Pvt. Ltd. The company entered the Indian sports eco-system with the purchase of the Delhi Pro Kabaddi franchise, ‘Dabang Delhi’ in 2014 and with Dabang Mumbai, made its first foray in the Hockey India League with the primary focus on development and growth of Indian hockey. It represents India’s capital, New Delhi as well as the National Capital Region in Pro Kabaddi. According to reports, the sponsor details are still being finalised.

Gujarat Fortune Giants

Making its foray into the world of Kabaddi, Gujarat Fortune Giants, one of the new teams to join VIVO Pro Kabaddi, is owned by Adani Wilmar Limited. The franchise put together a competitive team at the player auction, buying two-time Pro Kabaddi winning international player, Fazel Atrachali. The team will be coached by Pankaj Shirshat.

Patna Pirates

Owned by KVS Energy and Sports Limited, Patna Pirates believes that the spirit of the pirate is the spirit of not letting go, using the environment to your advantage and striking when the enemy is least aware. It is named after the Greek word ‘peirin’ which means “to attack.” KVS Energy and Sports Limited, is owned by Rajesh Shah, Co Chairman and Managing Director of Mukand Ltd and his son Kaustubh Vir Shah.

The team has roped in Birla Gold Cement as principal sponsor and Supreme Plastics as co-sponsor.

Puneri Paltan

Owned and managed by Insurekot Sports Pvt. Ltd., Puneri Paltan is one of two Pro Kabaddi franchises from Maharashtra. The team represents the city of Pune, combining the magnificence of Maharashtra’s cultural capital with the true flavours of this indigenous sport. Insurekot Sports Pvt. Ltd. is passionate about Kabaddi and committed to promoting the sport and works with an aim to create awareness around Kabaddi’s rich heritage in the country. The team is led by Manjeet Chhillar.

The team has signed up with private FM radio station Radio City 91.1 FM and real estate developer Kolte-Patil Developers Ltd. as its sponsors. U Mumba claimed it was looking to raise Rs. 12 crore through sponsorships. Puneri Paltan is targeting Rs. 2.5-3 crore.

U Mumba

Owned by Ronnie Screwvala, U Mumba, the Mumbai based franchise of the Pro Kabaddi, carved a niche for itself in the first season alone as it received a resounding response from millions of viewers who not only followed the team on television but also flocked to the stadiums in large numbers. Derived from Goddess Mumba Devi, the name represents the mother island that gave birth to a mega city which is now known as Mumbai.

The team has signed up with pain relief brand Nise Gel, men’s underwear brand Amul Macho and luggage maker American Tourister.

Tamil Thalaivas

Sachin Tendulkar has teamed up with serial entrepreneur N. Prasad as the co-owner of the Tamil Nadu-based Kabaddi franchise. The Chennai based franchise is all set to make its debut in the fifth season of VIVO Pro Kabaddi League and it would operate under Iquest Enterprises Pvt. Ltd. (Consortium). The team would be coached by K Baskaran.


Telugu Titans

Veera Sports backed by Core Green group, Greenko group and NED group own Telugu Titans. Veera Sports is led by Srinivas Sreeramaneni, co-founder and Chairman of the Core Green Group along with Mahesh Kolli and Anil of Greenko Group and Gautham Reddy of NED Group.

In an earlier interview with exchange4media, Shubhranshu Singh, Executive Vice President and Head-Marketing-Sports, Star India, while sharing the factors that made PKL an attractive platform for marketers had stated, “We knew we had a great product, which we are going to repackage and make it even greater. For those who think it’s uncool, we had to present it as cool. For those who are unaware, we have to educate them about the sport. Take Kabaddi to where they are and make them curious.”

Pro Kabaddi became an instant hit with Indian sports fans in its very first season in 2014 as 435 million viewers tuned in. Names such as Anup Kumar, Rahul Chaudhari, Ajay Thakur have become household names. Its cumulative viewership growth of 51% over 4 seasons is the highest for any sports league in India. It has even surpassed IPL in Andhra Pradesh and also achieved primetime slot leadership in Mumbai.

Speaking about the growing popularity of PKL, Harish Bijoor Brand Expert & Founder, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc., believes that the league has potential to match the popularity of cricket. “Kabbadi is the sport of the nation in many ways. Its popularity rests in the wrestling 'akhadas' of yore and in the ability of men to combat men with agility with nothing required as sport accouterments, except a small piece of land to play,  and nothing else at all. To that extent, it is the simplest sport to play. You don't require a ball, a bat, wickets or anything else at all, except the will and ability to draw out the playing areas. Therefore, strictly speaking, the ability of Kabaddi to grow in status and wide reach is humongous. If the league is marketed right and branded right, using every tool there is to use, this league will penetrate where possibly cricket has,” said Bijoor.

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