PKL V: 4 new teams, 800% premium on franchisee fee

Pro Kabaddi League, Blue Eyed baby of STAR India – the principal owner of the league, is set for a revamp this season. There are more teams, more Bollywood quotient, more matches – and all coming at a premium.

InsideSport has confirmed information that the total number of teams is set to increase from the existing eight to 12. Teams from Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana are set to join the eight existing franchisees – Bengal Warriors, Bengaluru Bulls, Dabang Delhi, Jaipur Pink Panthers, Patna Pirates, Puner Paltan, Telugu Titans and U Mumba. Among the four new franchisees, two of the new team owners are big names from Bollywood.

The association with the league that’s setting new bench marks for the sport industry comes at a high premium for new franchisees. The Franchisee fee, which had a base price of Rs 1 crore in Season One, is raised by up to 800% to 900% per cent. The new franchisees for Season Five have been signed for a franchisee fee of up to Rs 10 crore. Then there is players fee, team management and operations costs.

For STAR, a welcome addition to the Jaipur team owner Abhishek Bachchan, are two big guns from Cine World. Their presence, even association, is set to give a boost to ticket sales, marketing and sponsorship revenues, which are already reported to be pushing cricket on the growth charts. STAR, in another major strategic change, will run the league in one long season from July to October, as against two seasons in 2016. PKL will also set a new record in term of duration and games with 130 matches on the cards.

The gains are derived from sheer commercial success of PKL. In terms of absolute numbers added to the sports sponsorship pie, kabaddi has been the story of 2016, adding more numbers than cricket – yes, cricket – to the sponsorship pie. The Group M Sporting Nation in the Making Report IV, showing sponsorship research data for 2016, says something that in a year that saw the Indian Premier League build on the momentum from 2015, when India hosted the ICC World T20 for the first time, and the inaugural Tamil Nadu Premier League proved a success, it was kabaddi that was the ground sponsorship growth driver of 2016, more than Cricket..

The ground sponsorship in Indian sports grew at a healthy 13%, from Rs 1030.5 crore in 2015 to Rs 1165.2 crore in 2016. Cricket contributed 33.2 crore over its numbers in the previous year, it was kabaddi that bulked up the coffers even more with R 74.0 crore in additional accruals. Where and how did kabaddi make its numbers from? The decision by Star India to add another season was the biggest contributing factor. On the back of a two-season PKL and India’s successful hosting of the World Cup in Ahmedabad, on ground sponsorship for the sport grew a momentous 154%, enabling kabaddi to drive past football as the number 2 game in India on the money table. Kabaddi generated Rs 122.0 crore, up from Rs 48.0 crore in 2015, reveals the Group M Reports 2016.

Though, STAR India at least of one front will defy the logic emerging from this report. While the report attributes the boost in kabaddi revenues to two seasons of the league, the managers of the league are now seeing better gains from one, consolidated, long season.

The Kabaddi World Cup generated approximately Rs 20.0 crore in sponsorship monies with Amazon, Patanjali, Syska, Volini as associate sponsors, and Thumbs Up, Skill India and Nissin as Official Partners.

As for PKL, the league generated Rs100.00 crore split between its two seasons with 15 central sponsors on board, six of which stayed and invested across both seasons. First season sonsors brought in Rs 45.0 crore, with associate sponsors Gionee, State Bank of India, Bajaj Electricals, TVS, Flipkart committing Rs 6.0 to Rs 8.0 crore per sponsor and official partners Fair & Lovely Men, Nissin, Britannia, Pepsi, each putting up Rs 4.0 to Rs 5.0 crore.

On the other hand, in the second season, though the rates remained unchanged, a higher sponsor count meant Rs 56.0 crore was generated through associate sponsors Gionee, State Bank of India, Bajaj Electricals, Fogg, Amazon, Airtel and Official Partners, Fair & Lovely Men, Nissin, Britannia, Bisleri, Munch Nuts, Castrol. That these numbers were achieved without a Title sponsor, as Star India refused to budge on its asking price of Rs 25.0 crore per season, is even more remarkable.

PKL’s existing owner roster of high profile names like Kishore Biyani of Future Group, Hindi film A-lister Abhishek Bachchan, steel major Mukund Group’s Rajesh Shah, Uday Kotak of Kotak Mahindra, and Ronnie Screwvala’s Unilazer Sports, are clearly laughing all the way to the bank. Returning to the ground sponsorship scenario big picture.

In spite of these healthy numbers, STAR India might still take time to break even on this product. The leading sports broadcaster in India is investing heavily in the PKL to develop it as the premium of property of the group. The best airtime and marketing is spared for the league to derive best numbers. The team, headed by Anupam Goswami, designated Head, Pro Kabaddi League, STAR India, works throughout the year to add new dimension and values to the league.