The league has successfully completed seven seasons so far.
The media rights for the Pro Kabaddi League could go for auctions later this year as a result of a disagreement between the franchise owners and league organizers Mashal Sports over the revenue share agreement proposed by Star India, who are the current rights holder.
In the scenario that Star India doesn’t put forward revised terms that satisfy all the involved parties, the team owners have decided to team up to request the league organizer to conduct an auction, with an arrangement much akin to the Indian Premier League.
Providing some valuable insights into the conflicting situation, the owner of one of the franchisees told the Economic Times, “It’s a stalemate. We all have asked Mashal Sport to conduct an auction with no ‘Right to Match’ to Star, just like the IPL auctions. There is a lot of value in PKL and Star’s ownership of Mashal Sport is a major conflict of interest.”
Apparently, Star India has offered an amount ranging between Rs 14-15 crores per year to each of the franchisees as share from the media rights for the coming five years. However, the franchisees have very different expectations pertaining to their share as they are looking at a minimum of 22 crore rupees per year.
There is also a feeling among some of the owners that Star India, which is a majority interest owner in Mashal Sports, might have different aims, which are proving detrimental to the growth of the league due to the broadcaster’s conflict of interest.
For the uninitiated, Star India holds a majority 74% stake in Mashal Sports that they had acquired after the first season of PKL, way back in 2015. It must be noted that Star India took a chance on the sport, at a time when it wasn’t as prominent and wasn’t believed it has any sort of commercial potential.
Even in the case of Mashal Sports, they struggled to attain a broadcaster for almost two decades, before Star India signed up with them in 2014, that was followed by the successful launch of the PKL and its evolution into the country’s second-largest sports league.
Srinivas Sreeramaneni, owner of the Telugu Titans revealed that Star will possess the right of first refusal, however, if their offer isn’t deemed acceptable by the franchisees, then they will proceed directly to the auctions. He said, “Star had the right of first refusal to come up with an offer. If their offer is not agreed by everyone, we will go for auctions.”
Furthermore, Rajesh Shah, the owner of Patna Pirates, provided more clarity on the situation. He stated, “The process of finalizing the media rights for all franchises of PKL is as per the contracts signed by Mashal Sports and the franchises, and proceeding as per contract.”
With the owners determined to get what they deem as a fair share from the media rights, it will be interesting to see if Star Sports comes up with an improved offer to maintain their control, considering the success of the league to this point.