It is highly unlikely that Star Sports will continue as the host broadcaster of the Premier Badminton League after the existing media and sponsorship rights contract comes to an end with the present season of the franchisee-based tournament.
However, the league organisers SportzLive are optimistic that the partnership will go on uninterrupted.
Disappointed over the weak audience ratings and sponsorship response, the Premier Badminton League host broadcaster has almost decided against renewing the contract with SportzLive, the PBL organisers, a source in Star Sports has told insidesport.co.
Star Sports, the broadcast partner ever since the league was launched as the Indian Badminton League in 2013 by Sporty Solutionz Private Limited, then the commercial rights owners of the league, has not been able to find a considerable sponsorship deal for the PBL 2020. The broadcaster is also frustrated with the poor on-air advertisement sales.
Having also acquired the sponsorship rights of the PBL, Star Sports had got Vodafone on board as the title sponsor for the league in a multi-year contract. The telecom service provider, which had been the title sponsor of the league since its inception as the IBL in 2013, this year had declined to continue its association with the league. Since Star couldn’t find a replacement, the broadcaster itself is exercising the title sponsorship rights.
Bridgestone is the only other sponsor on board for the PBL 2020. The rubber tyre brand has been given the PBL platform by Star as part of a bigger package, which also included sponsorship of the Guwahati Khelo India Youth Games.
Star Sports apparently has also been frustrated with the poor on-air sponsorship for the league. “It’s very, very disappointing,” said the source.
“The absence of many leading players, poor on air ratings and weak turnout in the stadiums are adding to our doubts. Then you get to hear other issues about franchisees and players. It is not making any commercial sense for us,” the source said in an obvious reference to the league taking place at only three venues, issues with several team owners and timely payments to the Indian players.
SportzLive, the League organisers, however, are confident that there is no threat to their association with Star Sports. “We are always in touch with the broadcasters and the league ratings compare favourably as to the other emerging leagues and we are confident that the rights will be renewed for the next cycle,” said Atul Pande, MD, SportzLive.
This being the Olympic year, Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth are not participating in the league. The broadcaster was also not happy for the fact that Pullela Gopichand in no more actively involved with the league. “His presence would always add some value to the league,” said the source.
SportzLiv itself has allegedly paid the daily allowances to at least one team’s players. However, a senior source in SportzLiv had told Insidesport.co last week that there were no such issues. They have been assuring that the franchisees fulfil all their liabilities even if there were some minor issues here and there.