PKL 5 advertisers grow three-fold, sponsorships rise 320%

MUMBAI: Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) sponsorship revenue, in the fifth year, rose 320 per cent in 2017 and there was three times increase in the number of advertisers, Star India EVP and head - ad sales Anil Jayaraj said at the Mumbai event announcing the PKL 5. Star India owns the on-ground sponsorship and broadcast rights for Vivo PKL.

Mashal Sports, the pioneers of Vivo Pro Kabaddi, and Star Sports, India's leading sports broadcaster, began the countdown to the much-anticipated Season 5 of the league, with the unveiling of the new format and fixtures for the season. The league’s four new teams have been supported by JSW Sports and Adani Wilmar.

The increase in sponsorship revenue and advertisers, Jayaraj said, was owing to spurt in viewership. "Season 4 of PKL witnessed higher ratings than IPL in three states -- Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, that is 41 per cent as compared to IPL's 21 per cent (as per Star's internal analysis)," Star India EVP and head - marketing Shubhranshu Singh said.

Jayaraj added:  "Around 50 per cent of our existing advertisers have advertised at least in one of the previous seasons, and 90 per cent realised that competition gained and as a result decided to advertise." Looking at the sponsors from PKL 1, Fevicol was the first brand to be associated with PKL. In the second season PKL got some traction, and nine brands came on board.

PKL has also roped in film and sports personalities such as Virender Sehwag, Shikhar Dhawan, Saina Nehwal, and Amitabh and Abhishek Bachchan to spike PKL's visibility.

With only four years of play, PKL is the second most popular sports after IPL in India. Overall, around Rs 47 crore (Rs 470 million) was invested on over 260 players for the fifth season. "The sponsors investing in sports these days get 15x RoI (returns on investment)," Jayaraj said.

There was a 12 per cent increase in consideration for sponsorships from 59 per cent after PKL 4, Jayaraj informed. Brand such as Flipkart, Bajaj, TVS, Amazon India, Castrol Active, Gionee, Coca Cola and SBI, among other are associated with PKL 5. "And, I'm expecting a total of around 24 brands to be on board for this season," Jayaraj added.

The challenge Star India faced in the beginning was how to revive the ancient Indian sport. "Kabaddi World Cup got a viewership of 114 million which consumed around 11 billion minutes of TV," Singh said. PKL is no doubt on the growth path.

The on-ground sponsorship in kabaddi grew by 13 per cent year-on-year in 2016 and that cricket’s contribution in the overall sports revenue fell. “Around 61% of 2016’s on-ground sponsorship was contributed by three deals, one of which is Vivo’s title sponsor deal with Pro Kabaddi,” said media investment management company Group M business head - entertainment, sports & live events Vinit Karnik. On-ground sponsorship in 2015 and 2016 for cricket were Rs 529.5 crore (Rs 5295 million) and Rs 562.7 crore, respectively, and that for kabaddi were Rs 48.0 crore and Rs 122.0 crore, respectively.

Vivo Pro Kabaddi Season 5 will begin on 28 July in Hyderabad and will travel across 12 host cities, culminating in Chennai with the ultimate battle of Kabaddi supremacy taking place on 28 October. The first match will see Rahul Chaudhari-led Telugu Titans clash with Tamil Thalaivas, which boasts of marquee player, Ajay Thakur.

The 12 teams have been divided into two zones of six teams each, where each of them will be playing 15 intra-zone and seven inter-zone matches, prior to the play-offs. The play-offs stage will comprise three qualifiers and two eliminators scheduled to take place in Mumbai and Chennai.

Vivo Pro Kabaddi league commissioner Anupam Goswami said, "For Season 5, our goal was to create a high-impact tournament which evokes euphoric sentiment among fans for their favourite teams. Strong contenders will be seen clashing in the action-packed 3 months of the league. The longer duration of the league, in addition to 12 teams battling in 138 matches, will give fans an exciting season of kabaddi to cheer for."

International Kabaddi Federation CEO Deoraj Chaturvedi said, "It is our foremost priority to tirelessly work towards nurturing and developing an evocative and engaging Kabaddi culture in India. The International Kabaddi Federation worked with Mashal Sports to create a dynamic schedule for Vivo  Pro Kabaddi Season 5 which will thrill the audiences. We are proud to see that the league, which is uniquely driven by innovation, has grown into one of the biggest in Indian sports."

Team sponsors are also gung-ho, and are investing in training. U Mumba, for example, has started a training academy in Kerala to develop talent. "We will train 50 boys each year and will also be venturing into E-sports," U Mumba CEO Supratik Sen said.

Click here for detailed schedule

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