Mumbai : Star India, the majority stakeholder of the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL), has decided to retain the title sponsorship for the league’s second edition, In a bid to grow the franchise and advertiser profile.
The channel, which picked up a 74% stake in Anand Mahindra and Charu Sharma’s startup Mashal Sports in April, has committed to pump in additional Rs 70 crore to grow the PKL franchise.
“We have been very encouraged by the overwhelming demand from sponsors to associate with Pro Kabaddi League Season 2. We have seen a lot of interest across sectors like auto, telecom and ecommerce, but we have decided to nurture the sport by retaining the title sponsorship with Star Sports. This year, we are investing to significantly scale up the game and viewership which will help raise its value for future seasons and further grow the sport,” said Star India COO, Sanjay Gupta.
Advertising industry sources peg the value of the title sponsorship of PKL Season 2 at around Rs 20 crore. So, while there was interest from a handset manufacturer, its offer was a little lower than Star’s expectations. Another auto major, said to be a foreign company, came a bit late. Besides, there is very little inventory for Star to sell, according to advertising industry sources.
“The property is still developing, so it’s good that Star has retained it. Kabaddi is a short game with hardly any time between the games, unlike cricket. As last season showed, this Indian sport cuts across all audiences — from an upscale one to a huge women fan base. A brand which would have come in as a title sponsor would have eaten up all the short inventory, so now the rest of the sponsors will get adequate time,” said Shashi Sinha, CEO, IPG Media Brands India.
Coca-Cola, one of IPG’s clients, has bagged the associate sponsorship title for PKL 2 with Thums Up. Title sponsorships are typically signed for a period of three years. Star maybe looking at a higher price in season 3, which is also why they would have gone with just associate sponsorship, said a media planner who didn’t want to be named.
When PKL’s maiden edition logged in 43 crore viewers, everyone took notice. Leveraging these numbers, Star will rope in players from 34 kabaddi-playing nations besides 15-16 more from countries like the US, where the sport has garnered huge interest.
“It is our sport. The fear that it would not cross into the urban viewers has been allayed,” Star India’s Gupta said. Gupta expects to net . Rs 45-50 crore from associate sponsorships across 6-7 brands, of which Star India has tied up with five — Bajaj Electricals, TVS Motors Co, Thums Up, VIP and Flipkart.