Kabaddi promoters pack twice the punch now

Meenakshi Verma Ambwani New Delhi July 25 | Updated on July 25, 2014

Abhishek Bachchan with his Jaipur Pink Panthers Pro Kabaddi Leagueteam ROHIT JAIN PARAS

Two professional kabaddi leagues roll out this season in India and abroad

If cricket, hockey and football can have a ‘league’ so can our very own Kabaddi. Starting Saturday Indian sports buffs can see their beloved desi sport- Kabaddi in a new avatar, with a month-long Pro-Kabaddi League kicking off.

Pro-Kabaddi League is an initiative of Mashal Sports driven by Anand Mahindra, Piyush Pandey, Rajiv Luthra and Charu Sharma, to be played between eight teams. Team owners include leading entrepreneurs such as Kishore Biyani and Ronnie Screwvala, as well as actor Abhishek Bachchan.

Leg-up for sports

Star Sports is the key partner for the Pro-Kabaddi League and will be airing the Kabaddi face-offs live on prime time on Star Sports and Star Gold. Star India CEO Uday Shankar said, “We see ourselves in the business of sports and believe unless more and more sports are played, the whole business will not grow. We believe through our commitment to sports like Kabaddi, we will be able to offer a range of sporting action to our viewers. “

Indian connect

He said that as a sports broadcaster, the company’s endeavour is not just to be a destination for international sporting action but also to build and promote sports that have a strong Indian connect and participation. In the first year, the broadcaster’s aim will be to propel the desi sport to new levels of professionalism.

The broadcaster will be drawing on international talent and cutting edge technology for broadcasting the Kabaddi games . Shankar said in the first year the broadcaster is focusing on building a viewership model and a robust Kabaddi League.

Mass appeal

Media buyers believe the sport has strong grassroots connect and apt especially for brands trying to reach out to the masses. Ajit Gurnani Head-West at media buying firm MEC pointed out that Kabaddi is expected to have strong viewership across semi-urban and rural regions besides states like Punjab and even in Western belt including Maharashtra.

Two to tango

Besides, Pro-Kabaddi League, August 9, will see another kabaddi League - World Kabaddi League, kick off. The four month long league will see about 86 matches played during weekends, at 13 cities across countries and with eight teams whose owners include Akshay Kumar, Sonakshi Sinha and Yo Yo Honey Singh. The league has roped in Sony Six as the broadcaster for India, and inking broadcasting deals for other international territories too.

Show me the money

Raman Raheja, CEO, World Kabaddi League said that the league is expected to clock a turnover of about ₹ 100 crore in the first year , with each of the eight teams making an investment of about ₹ 5 crore. “ We believe the owners will be able to break-even in the first year, as this is low investment, high returns model,” he said. The company has roped in Wave Group as the title sponsor.

TRP goldmine

World Kabaddi League expects to get a viewership of about 60 million eyeballs across countries including India, besides Indian diaspora in UK, US and Canada.

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Published on July 25, 2014
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