Mumbai: Pro Kabaddi has become India’s biggest sports league with the inclusion of four new teams that will participate in the league from Season 5 onwards due to be played in July – October this year. The announcement of the four new team owners was made by Mashal Sports, organizer and administrator of the league and its parent organization Star India.
The four new franchises announced by Mashal Sports represent some of the leading corporate institutions in India, including prominent owners of teams in the ongoing Indian Premier League as well as the I-League. The new geographies for Pro Kabaddi Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat have been primarily chosen for their high affinity towards Kabaddi with massive fan bases, significant on-ground presence of the sport, and potential commercial value to sponsors and advertisers.
The new geographies and franchises for Mashal Sports are as follows:
With this, Pro Kabaddi is poised to surpass other Indian sports leagues in terms of geographical representation – 11 states, number of matches – 130+ matches and length of the tournament – 13 weeks. This is a reflection of Mashal Sports and Star India’s continuous endeavour to grow the sport from strength to strength every season.
Mr. Uday Shankar, Chairman and CEO, Star India said, “I am delighted to welcome some of India’s finest corporates to our Mission Kabaddi. We believe that with the support of existing and new partners we are well on our course to realizing a socially transformative sports agenda. The interest shown by these corporates is evidence of the immense potential of Kabaddi.”
Mr. Janardan Singh Gehlot, President, International Kabaddi Federation, said, “We laud Star India and Mashal Sports for uniquely transforming and renewing Kabaddi, and their relentless efforts to scale it even higher. The addition of 4 new teams to the ever-growing Pro Kabaddi League signifies a promising road ahead for the sport in India as well as over the world.”
The announcement of the four new teams in the Pro Kabaddi League is a culmination of a detailed exercise carried out by AZB & Partners & PricewaterhouseCoopers India.
This expansion adds to an already impressive line-up of 8 franchises based out of major metros in the country – Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Patna, Pune and Jaipur.
Within a short span of 2 years, Pro Kabaddi has captured the imagination of Indian viewers and established itself as one of the highest impact television properties in key markets. Pro Kabaddi became an instant hit with Indian sports fans in its very first season in 2014 as 435 million viewers tuned in. Its cumulative viewership growth of 51% over 4 seasons is the highest for any sports league in India. It has even surpassed IPL in Andhra Pradesh and also achieved primetime slot leadership in Mumbai.
Earlier this week, Star India announced a breakthrough deal with VIVO India, the global smartphone major — as the title sponsor of the league for five years.