Domestic cricket league gets a push

MUMBAI: State level Karnataka Premier League (KPL), a Twenty20 series, has got a shot in its arm. And here’s how: national level sports broadcaster Sony Six for the first time has decided to telecast 24 matches of the league’s third season beginning from 28 August to 12 September 2014.

While different states have experimented with such cricket leagues and failed due to it being telecast on regional channels, Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA) showed keenness to revive it by getting onboard a national sports broadcaster. Says Sony Six business head Prasana Krishnan, “We are working closely with the state cricket board. There is a robust growth of different sports in India and the market is changing.”

Elaborating on the key ingredients being used to revive the format this year, Krishnan adds, “The league has better sponsorship support, a national level sports broadcaster, a celebrity team captained by popular Kannada actor Sudip and participation from international cricketers like Manish Pandey and Robin Utthappa.”

The broadcast of KPL will clash with the ongoing World Kabaddi League, of which Sony Six is the official broadcast partner. While one would think one sport may hamper the viewership of the other, for Krishnan the audience base for each of the two sports is different.

“The WKL matches take place on weekends and therefore there will not be any clash,” he informs. He further says that in case of two matches being played on a single day it will be telecast at 1pm and 5pm, while in case there is a single match, it will be telecasted at 5 pm.

The previous seasons of KPL were telecast on cable news channel Udaya News. Sony Six, for the third season, is working closely with KSCA to get sponsors. While Karbonn Mobiles has been got onboard as title sponsors for the 2014 edition, four other local brands have been roped in as sponsors. Vijay Karnataka is the print partner and the marketing activity will be centered around Karnataka.

This Twenty20 cricket league has been modeled along the lines of the Indian Premier League (IPL). Born in August 2009, the league includes six franchisee teams besides a single celebrity team representing cities in Karnataka. The six franchisee city teams are Belagavi Panthers, Bellary Tuskers, Bijapur Bulls, Hubli Tigers, Mangalore United and Mysore Warriors.

According to a media planner, any league should be given a period of at least three years for it to pick up both in terms of fans and sponsorship interest. “It is only after that one should give their verdict on whether the league is successful or no,” adds the media planner.

The auction for the 2014 edition of KPL was conducted on 7 August 2014. The total purse for each team for the auction was Rs 20 lakh. Of this, Mangalore United spent Rs 19.55 lakh on 17 players, Belagavi Panthers spent Rs 18.9 lakh on 18 players. Bijapur Bulls picked up 18 players for Rs 18.55 lakh, Mysore Warriors purchased 18 players for Rs 17.6 lakh, Hubli Tigers bought 18 players for Rs 16.15 lakh and Bellary Tuskers handpicked 18 players for Rs 12 lakh.

The auction also received some high bids for marquee players. Wicketkeeper and batsman Robin Uthappa was selected by Bellary Tuskers for Rs 5, 30,000. Bowler Abhimanyu Mithun went to Bijapur Bulls for Rs 5 lakh. Batsman Bharath Chipli went home happy with Rs 4 lakh from Belagavi Panthers.

Below is a further break up of other marquee players:

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