22 Nov 2017
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Pro Wrestling League targets Rs 100 crore revenue in 2nd season

MUMBAI: Pro Wrestling League (PWL), which will start its second season in December and has Sony as its broadcast partner, is targeting revenue of Rs 100 crore (Rs 1 billion).

kartikeya-sharmaSpeaking to TelevisionPost.com, ITV Media Network and Pro Sportify promoter Kartikeya Sharma said, “We are targeting Rs 100 crore revenue in the second year of PWL and will be EBITDA positive. It’s always more difficult to convert not so popular sport like wrestling into a league format and make it a successful property vis-a-vis a very popular sport like cricket.”

Broadcast partner Sony

The second edition of PWL will generate approximately 100 hours of TV content compared to 36 hours in the first season.

In terms of lengthening the league with more matches and more franchises, Sharma said, “It goes without saying we have worked out a very robust model where we will be generating approximately 100 hours of TV content of PWL 2 vis-à-vis 36 hours of content in Season 1. It will grow at a similar pace year-on-year. Although we have increased the number of hours, we have very significantly increased the number of matches. It will be more action packed, and based on our research, the mix for the product has worked very well. We are building on our strengths and learning from the first season.”

Pro-Wrestling-League-coverIn terms of the deal with Sony, Sharma declined to comment on the contract. “We are bound by the confidentiality clauses in the contract. All properties are not the same. We don’t believe in outsourcing monetising opportunities to others. Hence, we hold the rights to sell our inventory and will build upon that. We believe in creating IPs and believe in monetising our inventories ourselves. We are monetising in holistic fashion and clubbing it with 360-degree marketing solutions including on-ground and on-air.”

Sponsors

Sharma pointed out that sponsors in the first year had been really happy with the association. “We are in talks with lot of popular brands across industries as well, apart from the brands that were associated with us in the first year.”

In terms of ticketing and hospitality, Sharma said that sports in India are a combination of ground and broadcast.

“Broadcast plays a very important role in it. It’s not a question of reaching out to 3 crore people in a day; it’s a question of giving a viewership experience to both of them. There is an entry price point for every product that comes in a nascent stage of its lifecycle. We abide by that because more is more, and we want to reach to a larger audience space across the country, and our ticketing strategy will be largely raised on getting more and more exposure to the product.”

Does PWL appeal mainly to the HSM?

Vishal GurnaniAs to whether the appeal of the PWL is mainly in the Hindi-speaking markets (HSM), Pro Sportify director Vishal Gurnani noted that PWL was largely distributed in the HSM.

“But we were available on national platforms like Sony Max, Sony Six SD/HD and Sony Pal. Just like cricket, we are an all-India play. We had made it clear that we wanted the max exposure and reach.

“We are in all-India play just like cricket with viewership from across the length and breadth of the country. However, the first season saw the larger audience traction from Northern Indian market, but this year we would see viewership across the country,” he explained.

ROI for franchises

In terms of what the franchise owners bring to the table, Gurnani noted that, by joining the PWL, the franchisees invest in a sport that is growing at an unprecedented pace.

“Of course there is a commercial side to it. As a business model, the return on investment will be higher than any other non-cricketing sport in the country. We have created a property that gives team owners one of the highest ROIs in the sporting domain from a commercial point of view,” he said.

Learning & challenges

Shedding light on the learning from the first season, Pro Sportify director Vishal Gurnani said, “We managed to pull off the event in less than 40 days from scratch. But obviously that was the inaugural edition, which is why there is always scope to make the league better from all perspectives.”

Gurnani noted that any business comes along with its own set of challenges. “For any business, problems and opportunities go hand in hand, and they both demand different solutions and approach. The second season brings a lot more action in terms of number of matches at the league level, which in turn gives us a challenge to run a show within the broadcast time limit and in an efficient manner. We are already adding two new franchisees in the second season, and we look forward to sustaining and growing at the same level every year.”

For him growth will come from keeping up with the market and implementing new innovations every year.

Innovations

Leagues like the PKL have succeeded because there were innovations to keep spectators interested. The PWL is no exception. Gurnani pointed out to innovations done last year such as coin toss and blocking of a player.

“Frankly, you have to introduce changes without changing the rules of the game, and that’s what we have done with wrestling. We have not changed any of the rules. We play by 100% of the Olympic rules and at the same time, we make the sport more innovative, interesting and entertaining. At this point, we can’t comment on more innovations other than male /female wrestlers, coin toss, blocking. One new addition would be that the team gets to choose their Icon player throughout the league matches,” he stated.