All teams of Pro Kabaddi are do­ing well for val­u­a­tion.

The Brand Reporter - - BRANDS AND SPORTS MARKETING - Anu­pam Goswami CEO, Mashal Sports & League Com­mis­sioner - Pro Kabaddi League

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.

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