All teams of Pro Kabaddi are doing well for valuation.
Kabaddi is undoubtedly growing as a popular sport. But it is still in its early days and consistent efforts and backing would be needed for it to grow to further heights. What it has established is the fact that the audience is hungry for more and has embraced a makeoverversion of a traditional homegrown sport. We interviewed Anupam Goswami, CEO, Mashal Sports & League Commissioner - Pro Kabaddi League, to know his thoughts and vision on the future of Kabaddi. Edited Excerpts:
Kabaddi has been seen as a homegrown sport. Now with its urbanization, it is becoming popular in metros and among millennials. What are your views on it?
We are gratified by this makeover and also cognizant that these are still days of early success for Kabaddi and PKL. This success owes so much to massive ambition and effort that our stakeholders have brought to the sport, but the next round growth will call for even greater vision and effort by all stakeholders and partners in PKL in particular.
With the addition of four new teams in season 5, PKL became India’s biggest sporting league in terms of geographical representation with 12 franchises from 11 states on board. How would you predict its growth trajectory?
There is firm evidence of an appetite for more Pro Kabaddi among sportsloving fans as well as investors. Pro Kabaddi is the standout sports league in India for a season-on-season increase in television viewership with very impressive engagement levels. Our expansion to 12 teams in Season V is a clear growth benchmark for sports leagues in India. Significantly, there were more applicants than the four new teams that we selected.
All the teams of Pro Kabaddi League are doing well for valuation. So, there will be strong and sustained market interest for next round expansion of the league. The actual decision to do so will, of course, a strategic choice for Mashal, in consultation with all its principal stakeholders including Star. In the meantime, the team will continue to be augmented on several counts – players, formats, quality of the event, and much more that already make it an exemplary value proposition in Indian sportscape.
PKL is attracting bigger brands on board now. Is it on its way to becoming the IPL for brands? How has it become more marketable over the years?
IPL has fantastic equity and following in our country, as does its sport overall. We do aspire to it, and some of our early success does give a basis for our ambition. On the other hand, it is already evident that different sports leagues will offer different meaning and engagement to diverse brands in India.
Eventually, and that day is not too far off, brands will identify and associate with variegated equity and values amidst sport in India. The PKL proposition is already offering its own distinctive value and efficiency of association. That is the key reason why its bouquet of brand association has steadily improved for spread as well as depth.
A league like PKL offers brands an opportunity for some unique activations, how can brands take advantage of such opportunities by doing customized activations?
Customized activations will always be the pathway for unique association and yields from PKL and Kabaddi, and any other emerging sport for that matter. PKL will always offer its own unique cost efficiencies and asset yields (such as players) compared to most other leagues in the country. It has a unique Indian sentiment for vast demographics. Of course, this potential needs to be built and exploited in a honed and focused way.
What, in your opinion, are the ways to keep the popularity of Kabaddi growing? And with the growing popularity, what will make it a more attractive option for future sponsors?
We will continue to ambitiously expand the geographies of passion for the sport. This itself offers tremendous fertility for PKL’s communication, content, and experience for fans, spectators, and viewers. This also is a pointer to PKL’s biggest strength that Star plays such an affirmative and path-breaking role as the principal investor in the League as well being a truly worldclass broadcast partner for scale and quality of content with an unmatched consumer base across its traditional and new-age platforms, including Hotstar.
Where do you see the league in the next 3 years?
It will fantastically be stronger for its competition, fan and sponsor engagement, and uniqueness as India’s gift to the world of sport.