The stage for the inaugural Pro Volleyball League is all set with the announcement of the six teams and their ownerships. Ronnie Screwvala’s U Sports, owners of the Pro Kabaddi Mumbai franchisee U Mumba, have extended their presence to the Pro Volleyball League with acquisition of their second sports franchisee – U Mumba Volley – to represent the business Capital of India.
Among the other five teams, Ahmedabad Defenders will be owned by Bonhomie-Sports Event management; Beacon Sports will own Calicut Heroes, Chennai Spartans are acquired by a consortium of alco-beverage company Kals Group; Kochi Blue Spikers by Thomas Muthoot of the Muthoot Pappachan Group; Hyderabad Black Hawks by Agile Securities, the co-owners of Pro Badminton League franchise Hyderabad Hunters.
The Pro Volleyball League will be broadcast live and exclusively on the Sony Sports Cluster channels for the prime time audience. Slated to be held from February 2 to 22, the league will be telecast on Sony Six (English) and Sony TEN 3 (Hindi), part of the sports bouquet from Sony Pictures Network India (SPN).
The broadcaster earlier had also released a promotional video for the league with India’s badminton ace PV Sindhu.
“Volleyball was among the top sampled sports in the Asian Games and the Rio Olympics in 2016 and we are sure that the league will play a catalytic role in further developing both the sport and talent in the country,” said Prasana Krishnan, head – Content, Sports, SPN, who also shared BARC data to showcase the market potential for the sport in India.
Over 22.4 million viewers had sampled volleyball during the Asian Games, and 54.3 million viewers watched it at the Olympics. India was lacklustre at the Asian Games and did not even feature in the Olympics. The sport is also popular among women viewers.
The league, co-owned by sports marketing and talent management firm Baseline Ventures and Volleyball Federation of India, will kicke start on February 2, 2019. The matches will be played at the Rajiv Gandhi Indoor Stadium, Kochi , and the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium in Chennai.
The teams will comprise 12 players, including two foreign players, one Indian icon player and two Indian U-21 players. The league will involve 18 matches, with each team playing each other once in a round-robin format and the top four teams qualifying for the semi-finals.
“We believe that the league is going to be the much-needed shot in the arm for the sport in India,” said Tuhin Mishra, MD, Baseline Ventures. “We are starting the league in two cities that already have a strong following and fan-base for the sport.”
The player salary cap for each team is ₹75 lakh for the inaugural year while the base franchise fee is estimated at ₹30 million. “The idea is to keep the costs low for everyone, just like kabaddi (Pro Kabaddi). There will be some losses in the initial years for the teams, but I don’t think that number will be more than ₹15-20 million. If all goes well, I believe the teams could be in the black by the third year or so,” says the League CEO Joy Bhattacharya.