Mashal Sports Private Limited, the owners of brand Pro Kabaddi League, have formally launched plans to expand the brand. The Company, controlled by STAR India group with 75% stake, has invited tenders as four new franchisees go on sale. The interest is said to be overwhelming. The Pro Kabaddi League Commissioner, Mr Anupam Goswami, in an Exclusive chat with InsideSport shared various aspects of expansion and plans for the new season.
InsideSport: STAR will have one single edition of PKL instead of two last year. What’s the reason for this change?
Anupam Goswami: The decision to expand is a logical outcome of the continuing success of PKL. We have every reason to believe that fans, athletes, sponsors, and investors want more of PKL; and a bigger league will actually allow more opportunity for Kabaddi to grow across the country. Star has always believed that Kabaddi can be as big as cricket, and the move to a single long season is a strategic move in that direction. Also, a single long season of PKL will also be just like the annual season of major leagues around the world.
IS: Can we also see some change in broadcast, production strategy?
AG: As part of its very considerable investment in PKL, Star has brought world class sports television production as well as its unique network strengths to the league. These values will continue to be strengthened as part of Star’s sustained investment in PKL and the overall sport of Kabaddi, and to deliver a world class sporting experience to our consumers.
IS: It is learnt there will be more teams this season. How many new teams can one get to see this season?
AG: Pro Kabaddi is now set to expand to up to four new geographies. Pro Kabaddi is all set to add up to four new teams across Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana. The intended new states for Pro Kabaddi have been selected very carefully for their present and potential affinity towards Kabaddi with massive fan bases, significant on-ground presence of the sport, and potential commercial value to sponsors and advertisers.
With this growth, PKL will be India’s foremost league in terms of geographic representation (12 teams from 11 states), number of matches (130+ matches), and duration of the league (13 weeks) in Season 5.
IS: Some Bollywood stars are tipped to be picking PKL franchisees. Is it true? Can you share names?
AG: There is significant and strong interest among high quality investors, including leading celebrities, to become owners of new PKL teams. These celebrities and eminent people are based across the country including the new geographies envisaged for the league. Also, in many cases this interest has been expressed for quite some time now.
IS: How is the response / interest from new franchisees?
AG: The expansion process is being just initiated. We are confident that we will be able to find passionate and capable investors.
IS: It is learnt that franchisee fee is raised by up to 800 to 900 per cent. Is it true? If yes, how is the response?
AG: We will give more emphasis to high quality investors who have the passion, vision, and capacity to realise the true potential of Kabaddi. Of course we are aware that a new PKL team is a unique and very attractive opportunity for investors in Indian sport.
IS: PKL is constantly setting new standards. What new can we expect this season?
AG: Pro Kabaddi has become one of the most popular sports leagues in the country in the span of two years. With the addition of new teams the upcoming season of Pro Kabaddi is going to be the biggest Indian sports league in terms of number of teams, number of matches, and duration of the league. This will take the league’s competition as well its offering for fans and consumers to a totally new level.
IS: Which Star group channels will broadcast PKL?
AG: Pro Kabaddi’s upcoming season will be broadcasted across 6 TV Channels: Star Sports 2 & 3, Star Sports HD2 & HD3, Maa Movies and Suvarna in English, Hindi, Telugu, Kannada.