The JSW Group, Adani Group, GMR Group, and a partnership of cricketer Sachin Tendulkar and serial entrepreneur N. Prasad are the four owners of the new Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) teams. The new teams—their names are yet to be decided—will be from Haryana, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, respectively.
The four new teams will operate under Iquest Enterprises Pvt. Ltd (Consortium) for Tamil Nadu, Adani Wilmar Ltd for Gujarat, GMR League Games Pvt. Ltd for Uttar Pradesh and JSW Sports Pvt. Ltd for Haryana.
PKL is a professional kabaddi league founded in 2014 by sports management company Mashal Sports Pvt. Ltd. Star India, the official broadcaster of the league, owns a 74% stake in PKL.
“With the support of existing and new partners, we are well on our course to realizing a socially transformative sports agenda. The interest shown by these corporates is evidence of the immense potential of Kabaddi,” Uday Shankar, chairman and chief executive officer, Star India said in a statement.
Unlike last year when Star India introduced a two-season kabaddi league, this year, Pro Kabaddi League will have one season (July-October) spread over 13 weeks. Last month, the broadcaster had initiated the tender process to increase the number of teams to 12 from the current eight.
Existing owners of PKL franchises include actor Abhishek Bachchan for Jaipur Pink Panthers and Ronnie Screwvala for U Mumba, among others.
With this, PKL is poised to surpass other Indian sports leagues in terms of geographical representation—11 states, number of matches—130-plus matches and length of the tournament—13 weeks.
Chinese handset maker Vivo Electronics Corp. on Monday acquired the title sponsorship rights for the Pro Kabaddi League for five years. The deal is valued at Rs300 crore.
The four new teams were finalized with help from AZB & Partners & PricewaterhouseCoopers India.
The eight existing Pro Kabbadi League franchises are based out of Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Patna, Pune and Jaipur.
On-ground sponsorship of kabbadi matches (including the Pro Kabbadi League), brought in Rs122 crore in 2016, up from Rs48 crore the previous year, according to a report jointly published by GroupM ESP, the sports and entertainment arm of GroupM, a media buying agency that is part of WPP Inc., and SportzPower, a sports business news company in March. The Pro Kabbadi League also earned Rs62 crore in team sponsorship.
Janardan Singh Gehlot, President, International Kabaddi Federation, said in a statement, “The addition of 4 new teams to the ever-growing VIVO Pro Kabaddi League signifies a promising road ahead for the sport in India as well as over the world,”
Within two years, the Pro Kabaddi League has captured the imagination of Indian viewers and established itself as one of the highest impact television properties in key markets. Pro Kabaddi became an instant hit with Indian sports fans in its very first season in 2014 as 435 million viewers tuned in.