Sports IP’s in India; Who is Racing towards the Ultimate Win


Cricket is no longer the only dominant sport in India as the country with its citizens have opened up to the idea of accepting other sports not only in the form of an interesting career option but also in the form of the content that they would love to watch on television. As a result numerous other intellectual properties apart from the Indian Premier League (IPL)  such as India Super League, Super Fight League and Pro Kabbadi League have come up challenging the game of cricket on every sphere be it the entertainment that they offer or in the terms of the flamboyant content.

While IPL is a brainchild of BCCI and was launched in 2008 in form of India’s very own T20 cricket tournament, other intellectual properties like The Super Fight League is an India based mixed martial arts promotion  formed in 2012 by Sanjay Dutt and Raj Kundra, The Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) is a professional kabaddi league in India managed by Mashal Sports Managing Director Charu Sharma and India Super League is  a professional football league in India launched in 2013 with the objective of catering to the avid football lovers in the country.

In terms of Participation, The Indian Premier League clearly has the upper hand as the majority of India still celebrates cricket throughout the country. However, the passion and the quality of talent witnessed on the Pro Kabbadi League and India Super League platforms has truly outlined that in the presence of required resources and proper guidance the two sports can also establish themselves in the same fan following league as Cricket. Also the successive editions of these intellectual properties are likely to only add up to the interest of future sportsmen to reflect upon these as a choice for a successful career option ahead. The Super Fight League too, seems to be steadily catching up on the pace and is expected to grow further in the upcoming years.

However in terms of affiliation, the monopoly of cricket seems to be coming at an end with most advertisers demarcating their budgets to thrive on the audiences growing interest in other sporting events of the country.  Also small and medium scale advertisers who did not had the budget to associate themselves with cricket earlier can now be seen openly promoting the new IP’s as it gives them more branding opportunities in the same investment figures. While India Super League has leading brands like Hero, Maruti Suzuki, Amul and Pepsi co India as its prime sponsors, the Pro Kabbadi League also is managing a lot of advertising revenue from the Future Group and its entities. The Super Fight League has also roped in a sponsor in form PACL India Ltd and is garnering more advertiser attention with every edition.

Another important aspect that determines the overall success of a sports intellectual property in India is the revenue being generated from viewership on television. And as far as this aspect is concerned though de-regulation in television has brought a significant amount of exposure to other sports and their properties but the generation of revenue by them in this regard is minimalistic and cricket seems to be the only sports resulting in profits. However industry experts are of the view that the new intellectual properties cannot be expected to take on the popularity of cricket at such an early stage and the generation of television revenue is a milestone they will hopefully achieve in the next few years.

So is IPL the clear winner among sports IP’s in India? Well, the situation is more complex than what it looks like. Though currently all the interrelated elements and intricacies of revenue generation root for the continued success of IPL for now but a clear shift in the audience interests from the sport of cricket can be easily witnessed symbolizing the growing success of India Super League, Pro Kabbadi League and Super Fight League as well. With the organizers adding more interesting elements to each new edition making it better from the previous one it is only for time to tell which sports IP in India will register the ultimate win.

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