Pro Kabaddi League gets new title sponsor in Vivo smartphones

Smartphone maker Vivo Electronics has been named title sponsor of Pro Kabaddi League for a period of five years in a deal is valued at Rs300 crore


The fifth season of Pro Kabaddi League is set to start in July. Photo: HT
The fifth season of Pro Kabaddi League is set to start in July. Photo: HT

New Delhi: Chinese handset maker Vivo Electronics Corp. on Monday acquired the title sponsorship rights for the Pro Kabaddi League for a period of five years, starting 2017. The deal is valued at Rs300 crore.

Pro Kabaddi is a professional kabaddi league founded in 2014 by sports management company Mashal Sports Pvt. Ltd. Star India, also the official broadcaster of the league, owns a 74% stake in the firm.

According to Star India, the deal is the biggest title sponsorship deal for a non-cricket sport. “For the last three years, we have not had a title sponsor. We have found a partner which happens to share a common vision with Star Sports and the values which kabaddi brings to the youth of this country,” said Sanjay Gupta, managing director at Star India, adding that “Star Sports Pro Kabaddi League” will now be called as “Vivo Pro Kabaddi League”.

Vivo Electronics is currently the title and the presenting sponsor of the Indian Premier League, the premier T20 cricket tournament. In 2015, Vivo had replaced PepsiCo as the title sponsor for IPL for a period of two years. The deal was pegged at Rs200 crore and will expire with the 10th season of IPL.

“Earlier seasons have shown that kabaddi is a sport whose popularity cuts across all audiences. With this association, Vivo aims to target the right audience and capture the hearts of Indians. We target youth and Pro Kabaddi is a growing platform for the Indian youth,” said Kent Cheng, chief executive officer at Vivo India, a unit of BBK Electronics Corp.

BBK Electronics also owns smartphone brands Oppo and OnePlus which are currently sold in India.

The fifth season of Pro Kabaddi League is set to start in July.

Unlike last year when Star India introduced a two-season kabaddi league, this year Pro Kabaddi League will have one season (over 130 matches) spread over a 13-week period. Last month, the broadcaster had initiated the tender process to increase the number of teams to 12 from the current eight. The teams will be selected from Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Gujarat, and Uttar Pradesh.

“This deal symbolises the mobile phones intent to capture mass market audience; first it was through cricket and now with Pro Kabaddi League. This will surely help Vivo reach out to both urban and rural audiences at one shot,” said Tuhin Mishra, managing director and co-founder at sports management firm Baseline Ventures.

As for viewership, “the television numbers have been steadily growing for Pro Kabaddi League. So, we are sure the RoI (return on investment) would have made logical sense for Vivo to be on board,” Mishra added.

For the year 2016, Pro Kabaddi League had earned Rs62 crore in team sponsorship, riding on the back of two-season kabaddi league, according to a report jointly published by GroupM ESP and SportzPower, a sports business news company.

The on-ground sponsorship of kabbadi matches (including the Pro Kabbadi League), brought in Rs122 crore in 2016, up from Rs48 crore the previous year, the report added.

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