Pro Volleyball League hopes to break-even by third year

MUMBAI: The organisers of the Pro Volleyball League that kicks off on 2nd February are targeting a breakeven in the third season.

“We expect to breakeven by the third season. We are building up a quality product and trust it completely and by the third season, all the effort will bear fruits,” said Pro Volleyball League CEO Joy Bhattacharjya told TelevisionPost.com.

The organisers have signed a five-year contract with Sony Pictures Networks India (SPNI). The matches are going to be broadcasted live on Sony Six and Sony Ten 3 and will be streamed live as well on their digital platform SonyLIV.

Bhattacharjya noted that Volleyball is one of the most popular sports in the world and is played massively across India. “Not all schools have a cricket pitch or a football ground, but most of them certainly have a volleyball court. So, it’s popular at the grassroots and cuts across rural and urban landscape of the country. In fact, it was one of the most watched sports during the Rio Olympics. Most importantly, we have some terrific players who are at par with the world’s best and a league like this is going to give them the stage they deserve. All these thoughts were important to the genesis of this league.”

When asked the mixed reception to sports leagues that launched in the wake of the IPL’s success, Bhattacharjya noted that if one sees the league landscape after IPL, the ones that have found hard to thrive are the ones that aren’t team sports. “Individual sports don’t evoke that sense of belonging among the crowds even if you give the players a team and pit them against another player of the same caliber belonging to another team. That’s where Pro Volleyball league has an advantage. Besides, Volleyball is a fairly easy game to understand and doesn’t have the complexity of so many other sports. Anyone who hasn’t followed the game at a young age can get hooked to it in no time, for the basics are so easy to grasp.”

Talking about the franchise owners and the investments being made, he said that there are six franchise owners who are unequivocally passionate about the sport and are as committed to making it popular across the country as the organisers are.

The six franchises in the league are Ahmedabad (Bonhomie Sports Event Management), Calicut (Beacon Sports), Chennai (Chennai Spartans), Hyderabad (Agile Entertainment), Kochi (Thomas Muthoot) and Mumbai (U Sports).

“Dr. DG Chaudhari one of the owners of the Ahmedabad Defenders has a long history of involvement in sports for children with special abilities. The U Mumba franchise is a massive name in Kabaddi already and Ronnie Scewvala’s commitment to sports is well known. Just not that, our youngest team owner Safeer PT of Calicut Heroes has been at the forefront of one of India’s biggest volleyball lovers club. So, all these teams have a history of sports as well as commitment towards Volleyball.”

In terms of the TG, Bhattacharjya noted that the popularity of the sport is latent in the country and is not restricted to the metros. “So many people play Volleyball at a young age or for leisure after work. The number is easily more than the number of people who engage themselves in playing kabaddi at a young age. However, those volleyball fans don’t have any action to follow on Television. So, those people are our target group. We are giving them a league with the highest quality of action to follow with the biggest of the volleyball stars and are trying to rekindle their love for the sport. And no. The league is for the masses just like the sport. It’s not metro-centric in any way.”