Big headache for PKL owners & Star India, franchises want media rights auction in the open market

There was already a question mark on the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) season this year due to Covid19 and now another issue has increased the headache of the PKL organizers. The PKL owners Mashal Sports are in a complete fix. Reason, the franchises of PKL as reported earlier does not want any preferential treatment for the broadcasters Star India. The franchises want, PKL Media rights to be auctioned in the open market. This means, Star India who has been instrumental in building PKL what it is today and who also owns the majority share in the Mashal Sports can’t have free access to the media rights of the league. 
 
On the contrary franchises in unison are pushing Mashal Sports to conduct the open auction where along with Star Sports other potential media partners like Sony Pictures Network, Jio Network can vie for the rights. According to the franchises this will lead to best possible price discovery for the rights which are currently undervalued according to them. 
 
“Mashal’s ownership by Star India is complete conflict of interest. In recent meeting, we have cleared to Mashal that we can’t accept revenue share arrangements by Star. PKL is a very valuable media property and we all have invested into it. Star can’t enjoy the entire benefits. We have asked Mashal to opt for open auctions. Let us discover the best possible values and platform for the rights of PKL”, said one of the franchise owner to InsideSport. 
 
Meanwhile, Srinivas Sreeramaneni, owner of Telugu Titans, told ET on Tuesday that currently negotiations are undergoing. “Star had the right of first refusal to come up with an offer. If their offer is not agreed by everyone, we will go for auctions.” 
 
PKL vs Franchises Owners : What exactly is the issue ?
 
PKL is currently owned by Mashal Sports which is also responsible to conduct the league. The holding company of PKL has Star as its majority shareholder. According to the information available with InsideSport Star India owns more than 84% in the company. Up till now Mashal Sports use to conduct the league and Star India was the broadcast partner. In lieu of the same, Star India was paying certain amount as media rights fee to Mashal Sport. The said Media Rights fee gets distributed among the franchises. 
 
According to the franchises, Mashal Sports by passing the rights to Star India directly is undervaluing the property. Some of the franchises in past has also alleged that it is clear case of Conflict of Interest as Star India is also the majority owner in the company which owns the league and also is the broadcaster. 
 
Franchises want transparent eco-system by which the media rights of PKL can be auctioned and the fair price for the rights can be discovered. 
 
PKL vs Franchise Owners : InsideSport VIEW
The sport of Kabaddi which generates crores of rupees for its top talent and the entire eco-system of the sport today was in obscurity before Star India joined Kabaddi’s bandwagon. It was only in 2014 when Star India came on board and the first season of PKL was launched, catapulting Kabaddi as the second most watched sport in the country.
 
Star invested in the sport like no one else and became the anchor through which the entire status of the sport got elevated in the country. The sport may have found some commercial takers today but still it is in it infancy. It still handholding and the deep pockets of anchor like Star for it to sustain the progress made in the last 6 years.