According to sources across multiple franchises, all the team owners have joined hands and asked for a fair and impartial auction in case existing rights holder Star India doesn’t come up with a better offer.
“It’s a stalemate,” said the owner of one of the franchisees. “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.”
It is learned that Star India has offered between Rs 14-15 crore per year to each of the franchisees as share from the media rights for the next five years, whereas the franchises are looking at minimum Rs 22 crore per year.
Some franchisees feel that Star India, which is a majority interest owner in Mashal Sports, is not in favour of unlocking the league’s true potential in terms of media rights exploitation given the broadcaster’s conflict of interest.
In 2015, after the first season of PKL, Star India picked up 74% stake in Mashal Sports, allowing it full control over the league.
Email query sent to Star India and Mashal Sports did not elicit any response till press time Tuesday.
It is important to note that it was Star India that took a major bet on kabaddi, which was otherwise never considered a TV sport.
In fact, Mashal Sports, which was founded by Anand Mahindra and Charu Sharma in 1994, took almost two decades to get a broadcaster on board.
It was only in 2014 when Star India came on board and the first season of PKL was launched, catapulting Kabaddi as the second most watched sport in the country.
Meanwhile, Srinivas Sreeramaneni, owner of Telugu Titans, told ET that currently negotiations are undergoing. “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.”
Rajesh Shah, owner of three time PKL winner team Patna Pirates, added, “The process of finalising 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.”
ET first reported about the growing tussle between Mashal Sports and franchises in December 2018.
Initially, the media rights of the league were up for renewal from the 2020 edition, and the franchise owners were pretty confident of a major windfall.
However, because of Covid-19 pandemic, the 2020 edition has been cancelled and the rights will go for the next five year cycle, starting July 2020.