Pay-television broadcaster Star India has boosted its interest in the sports events sector by acquiring a majority stake in the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL).
The franchise-based PKL debuted across a five-week run in July and August last year, with Star serving as its broadcast rights-holder. However, Star has now stepped up its interest by acquiring a 74 per cent stake in Mashal Sports, the organiser of the league.
The deal represents Star’s latest move in the sports events sphere. The broadcaster already holds a stake in football’s Indian Super League (ISL) through its 10-year rights deal that included equity in the venture.
“Star has acquired a majority stake in Mashal Sports with a vision to create an even more favourable ecosystem for the great Indian sport of kabaddi and build on its (the PKL’s) successful launch,” Star India chief executive Uday Shankar said, according to the IndianTelevision.com website.
“The investment, completely in sync with Star's aim to spawn a multi-sport culture in the country, will further help in nurturing India's sporting talent. We are totally committed to abiding with the vision of Mashal management and all stakeholders of Pro-Kabaddi and will further develop the league in the upcoming season two.”
Star India in September said the inaugural season of the PKL became the second largest Indian sports property behind cricket’s Indian Premier League (IPL) in terms of broadcast reach. Star returned a cumulative viewership of 435 million – a figure it claimed was second only to the IPL in Indian sport, with the Twenty20 competition bringing in 552 million viewers in its last completed season.
Star India chief operating officer Sanjay Gupta explained that the broadcaster’s investment in the PKL and ISL is part of a new strategy on its part.
“Sport is a long haul business and it takes sustained investment to build something from the ground up,” he said. “We need to have a long term commitment to build a sport… a 10 to 20 year approach to build it ground up. Take the example of EPL (English Premier League), which has been around for decades and has built an extremely strong consumer franchise, which advertisers are eager to associate with. The three year view of buying sporting rights has to change, which disallows most of the partners to make money and disincentives anyone trying to build a sport.”