Mashal Sports issued an Invitation to Tender (ITT) for the auction of the media rights for the next five editions of the league. The e-auction happened on 15th April 2021. Star India won the media broadcasting rights at a measly 905 crores deal with Mashal Sports without any other bidder participating in the auction. This translates to each team getting 12-13 Crores per season. Earlier Star had offered to pay INR 15 Crores per season but was turned down by the owners; also thought to be a main reason for the postponement of Pro Kabaddi Season 8.
Kabaddi is the second most watched sport in India after cricket and it captures a massive 38% viewership of all non-cricketing events. The sport is dominated by the 3-month long Pro Kabaddi League which began in 2014. Ever since the league began it has witnessed over 9-14% annual growth in viewers y-o-y (other than the one year where 3 seasons happened close together). Mashal Sports, incorporated in 1994 by Anand Mahindra and Charu Sharma, owns the Pro Kabaddi League. In 2015, Star India bought out 74% stake in Mashal Sports and is now the major equity owner in the company.
Media rights for the previous cycle was bought out by Star India for an undisclosed amount (estimated to be ~450-500 Crs for 5 years assuming each team was getting around 6.5 Cr and Mashal Sports shares 80% of media rights with the teams).
According to Kabaddi Adda, 2000-3000 Crores would have been a fair valuation for the Pro Kabaddi asset.
Mashal Sports aimed to auction the tourney’s media rights with a minimum price of Rs 900 crore for the upcoming five years cycle. Media rights at 905 crores will mean each team will be paid 12–13 Cr annually. Pro Kabaddi Season 8 due to be conducted in 2020 was delayed, possibly due to the pandemic. Another reason was the inability of franchises and Mashal Sports to come to an agreement on the value of media rights. According to sources, Star India had offered Rs 14-15 crore per year (works to 1050 Cr for 5 years) to each of the franchisees while they had sought a minimum of Rs 22 crore per year (1650 Cr for 5 years).
What was auctioned?
All the media rights — broadcast, digital and gaming — were auctioned. As with any market driven process the intrinsic value of PKL was expected to be discovered in the e-auction. However, Mashal Sports' inability to get any other bidders has resulted in disappointing outcome for the owners and as a result the players. PKL is the second largest league in the country after the Indian Premier League (IPL).
Teams : 12 in PKL, 8 in IPL, 11 in ISL
Matches : 132 games in PKL, 60 games in IPL, 115 games in ISL
Viewership : 400–500 Million viewers in PKL, 630 Million viewers in IPL, 168 Million viewers in ISL
Media Rights : ₹ 905 Crores for PKL, ₹ 16347.50 Crores for IPL, ₹ 1500 crores (paid for 35% stake in ISL)
Most Valued Player : Siddharth Sirish Desai at ₹ 1.45 Crore in PKL, Virat Kolhi at 17 Cr in IPL
Just to give context, Star India acquired the worldwide broadcasting rights for TV and digital media of the Indian Premier League (IPL) for a whopping ₹ 16,347.50 crores for a period of five years spanning from 2018 to 2022. Previously, ahead of the inaugural edition of the IPL, Sony had bagged the media rights for 10 years with a bid of ₹ 8200 crores. That is a quadrupling of media rights in the last 10 years. According to Kabaddi Adda, 2000-3000 Crores would have been a fair valuation for the Pro Kabaddi asset.
The teams are obviously disappointed with the way the media rights auction was conducted making it difficult if not impossible for other bidders to participate. A natural side-effect of the media partner becoming a majority shareholder.