PodcastsSports Business Updates

SBU Ep26 : India’s first sports IPO, Kabaddi millionaires in PKL and other news

The nexus between Sports and Business.

Update number one is about JSW Sport’s success and a mind-blowing plan that will change the way sports is perceived in the future in India. So, JSW Sports is celebrating the success of India’s successfully concluded Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.  21 athletes who represented India were from JSW Sports 13 athletes returned with medals.

JSW Sports has spent close to ₹100 crore building IIS in Vijaynagar and ₹40 crores to support their institutes across India each year and this includes the money raised from 30 plus donors. After all the success in developing sporting infrastructure for champions, JSW Sports is aiming for something that has never been thought of in India’s sporting history – India’s first Sports IPO! 

In a recent interview  Parth Jindal, Founder-Director, JSW Sports said and I quote “I have the ambition to make its India’s first public sports company, having a presence across sports, having a talent management arm, and cricket and football academies in the country. I think these are the right vehicles to go public by 2025. By that year we expect the sports ecosystem in India, as well as our sports franchisees, to all mature enough for us to consider going public.”, unquote. 

As wild and weird as this announcement sounds and many people may even laugh it off this is very well calculated by one of the leaders of the Indian sports sector, so write JSW Sports at your own risk.

Moving on to our second update –  Sony Sports extend ECB broadcast rights and Disney Hotstar to show Australian Cricket in India.

Sony Pictures Networks India has extended its partnership with England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) for the exclusive television and digital rights for six years until the year 2028 in India along with Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Myanmar, and the Maldives. 

The renewal will give SPN the exclusive rights to broadcast all senior Men’s International and Women’s International along with county competitions on its sports channels. The exclusive content from ECB will also be streamed on SPN’s premium OTT platform SonyLIV.

The deal also includes rights to telecast county competitions that include LV=Insurance County Championship, Vitality Blast and Royal London Cup. There is more International Cricket coming to India with Disney Star signing a deal with Cricket Australia.

The third update is about the Indian govt. Supporting Sports for women with fresh funding announced.

Women’s sports is experiencing unprecedented success in India and to encourage more success and participation the Indian govt has committed INR9.5 Crore under the ‘Sports for Women’ component of the Khelo India Scheme.

The fund will be utilised to provide special emphasis on the promotion of sport among the talented women sportspersons in the country, the Sports Authority of India (SAI) has established one National Centre of Excellence (NCOE) and three SAI Training Centres (STCs) exclusively for women.

It has been reported that 3146 women athletes are trained across the country under the Sports Promotional Schemes of SAI.

Further, under the “Talent Search and Development” component of the Khelo India Scheme, 1374 women athletes are being trained across the country and supported with maximum financial assistance at the rate of Rs 6,28,400 (including Rs 1,20,000 as out-of-pocket allowance) per annum per athlete.

With a view to achieving the twin objectives of mass participation and promotion of excellence in sports, the Government in February this year decided to continue the Scheme of “Khelo India – National Programme for Development of Sports”.

The pay out’s to the athletes may seem minuscule compared to the funding women’s sports are getting in the west but it’s a new start and most importantly a reason for Indians to consider sports as a full-time job that supports future athletes financially.

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Moving on to update number four, I wanted to highlight how the BGMI ban in India is set to hurt the eSports enthusiasts and overall the future of eSports in India.

So, the Indian government has again banned Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI) under Section 69A of the IT Act, the same provision used to bar PUBG Mobile. Just to give you all a refresher – India had banned Chinese apps including Tik Tok and PUBG. Krafton then took over ops from Tencent to relaunch the game as BGMI, however, it was discovered that Krafton still passes the data onto Tencent servers and hence the ban for the second time. Having explained the scenario the recent ban on BGMI, which was launched just a year ago has triggered questions about the future of e-Sports in India.

The Indian e-Sports industry is at an early stage of growth compared to the market in the countries like US and Japan. But as per the experts, this industry has seen a huge growth in recent years. In the past 5 years, e-Sports has experienced over 200% growth in terms of viewers along with its prize pool soon being able to compete with the biggest sporting leagues in India.

Also, keep in mind that India has around 430 billion mobile gamers and the numbers are going to increase in the coming years. This sets up a perfect segue to highlight the after-effects of the ban, so here we go:

  1. Reduction in sponsorship values and a significant reduction in prize money.
  2. Viewership will reduce significantly. When PUBG was banned viewership was down by 70%.
  3. No international opportunities for Indian eSports athletes. 
  4. FDI in gaming at risk – KRAFTON has invested $100m in the Indian eSports industry with major investments in Nodwin gaming, Loco, Nautilus mobile and others.

Krafton’s CEO has accepted the ban and is willing to work with the Indian government to bring back the game to India only time will tell if BGMI is back or all the efforts put in by the Indian eSports community will have to be reset losing valuable time and income for the gaming ecosystem including the government. However, security and geo-political issues have to be respected and a solution has to be found so that other game publishers don’t have to face similar issues.

And now to our fifth and final update and this one is from the PKL and how player income is on an upswing.

So, the Vivo Pro Kabaddi League Season 9 Player Auctions were successfully conducted by Mashal Sports in Mumbai on 5-6 August 2022 and here are some highlights from the auction:

  • Pawan Kumar Sehrawat was acquired by Tamil Thalaivas and emerged as the most expensive buy. The Thalaivas smashed the all-time record as they paid a whopping sum of INR 2.26 crore for him.
  • Vikash Khandola became the second most expensive player when Bengaluru Bulls paid INR 1.70 crore.
  • Puneri Paltan, the franchise from Pune paid INR 1.38 crore for defender Fazel Atrachali.
  • Raider Guman Singh emerged as the most expensive Category B player at the Player Auction, being bought for INR 1.21 crore by U Mumba.
  • A total of 130 players were sold to the 12 franchisees during the Player Auction over the two days, across the four categories of players auctioned. 

The Tamil Thalaivas were the highest spending franchise with a total spend of INR 4.40 crore followed very closely by Puneri Paltan and Telugu Titans who spent INR 4.38 crore each.

The key takeaway from this update is that Pro Kabaddi League continues to grow and players continue to benefit from emerging sports leagues in India.

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Nilesh Deshmukh
I am passionate about sports and passionate about marketing. As a sports marketer, I have built significant expertise in successfully delivering medium to long term digital marketing strategy for global sports entities and brands like Arsenal FC, Manchester United FC, Chelsea FC, Major League Baseball, Formula E, and AELTC, etc to engage with their fans in India. I am currently based in London and lead India business at Engage Digital Partners.