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Star Sports becomes title sponsor of PBL; unveils broadcast plan

MUMBAI: Star Sports has signed up as the title sponsor for the Premier Badminton League (PBL), which will see the world’s top shuttlers square off in India’s largest badminton tournament.

The country’s star shuttler Saina Nehwal is currently World No. 2, while others like PV Sindhu, 12th in the standings, and K Srikanth, ninth overall, have also made their mark on the sport. India’s largest broadcaster Star Sports has already signed up as the league’s official broadcast partner.

Kicking off 2 January 2016, the PBL will be played until 17 January. Live telecast will be on Star Sports 2, Star Sports HD2, Star Sports 3, Star Sports HD3 and Hotstar.

Star India COO Sanjay Gupta said, “The success of India’s badminton stars internationally has led to the emergence of a passionate fan base back home. As a result, like kabaddi, badminton is now a sport that is very close to the hearts of Indian fans. The prospect of our home heroes facing up against the best the world has to offer in our own backyard was a prospect that was too tempting to pass up. Strategically, it also made the most business sense for Star Sports given our efforts to create a vibrant sporting ecosystem in the country.”

Star Sports plans to introduce several innovative broadcast initiatives for the league in its efforts to forge a deeper engagement with fans and place them right in the thick of this fast-paced sport.

The broadcaster will project telemetry such as players’ heart rates live on screen. It will also hand out four awards after each day of play for the best rally, the fastest smash, the player of the day, and the fan of the day as selected through contests run by franchises across locations.

The league will be packaged unlike any other badminton tournament has been before, with lights and music adding further dazzle to an already riveting and star-studded spectacle.

Tweaks to the rules, like unpredictable player draws, ‘Trump Matches’—which are worth bonus points—and the newly introduced ‘sudden death’ rule, will add a further dose of excitement to the tournament.