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Trouble for PKL after VIVO pulls out as title partner and franchises ask for media rights auction

After distancing themselves with this year's Indian Premier League, China's phone manufacturing company VIVO decided to pull out as title sponsors of Pro Kabaddi League. Vivo had signed a five-year deal worth Rs. 300 crore with PKL in the year 2017. With the coronavirus pandemic affecting the sports league all over the world, this year's Pro Kabaddi is also facing uncertainty. With Vivo's pull out, it seems a lot more difficult for the league to go ahead.

A person involved in the deal told The Economic Times, "Vivo has decided to lie low amid all the negative publicity the brand was generating since the India–China clash on the border. The company has decided to pull out of all the major deals, at least for this year. Vivo will now focus on selling products via more retail discounts and commissions. Vivo has informed Star India of its intention to terminate the deal."

Pardeep Narwal (Courtesy - PKL)
Pardeep Narwal (Courtesy - PKL)

Franchises fight for a Revenue Share for the Media Rights

The owners of Pro Kabaddi, Mashal Sports and Star, are in yet another fix with the media rights. The franchisees have demanded an auction for the media rights of the league. Currently, the media rights are owned by Star India, who also has a 74% share in the league. The teams collectively have decided not to let Star India get free access to the media rights of the league.

The issue arose after Star India offered to pay a per year fee to each of the franchisees as a share from the media rights. However, the franchisees were expecting a higher value per year. The media rights for the league were up for renewal from the 2020 edition. With the number not meeting the expectations of the team owners, they have all unanimously asked for an open auction for the Pro Kabaddi media rights where the fair price of the league can be discovered.

Notably, it was Star India who was the only broadcaster to come onboard with Anand Mahindra and Charu Sharma owned Mashal Sports in 2014 before launching the first season of Pro Kabaddi. The league has then gone on to become the second most-watched sports league in the country after the Indian Premier League.

According to the franchisees, the true potential of the property (PKL) is not being unlocked with the media rights being freely given to Star India. However, passing on the media rights to other broadcasters comes under a conflict of interest with Star.

We, at Kabaddi Adda, have reached out to the franchisees but haven't received any comments from them.