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PVL: Prime Volleyball gets backing of 5 original team owners, signs Sony as long-term broadcast partner

In a major boost to the sport, Prime Volleyball League (PVL) has got the backing of five of the six original team owners of the now defunct Pro Volleyball League, as well as broadcaster Sony Pictures Networks India (SPN), which has signed a long term broadcasting partnership with the league owners.

The brainchild of sports marketing firm Baseline Ventures, the new league heralds a dramatic shift from the traditional model of franchise based sports leagues in the country, after it had to let go off the rights of Pro Volleyball due to disagreements with the Volleyball Federation of India (VFI).

While Baseline has won the legal better and arbitration award – VFI is yet to pay up Rs 6 crore due to Baseline – the firm has gone ahead and worked on a model in line with top international leagues like the NBA (National Basketball Association) and Major League Soccer (MLS), wherein franchise owners are also stakeholders in the holding organisation of the league.

First season of PVL, scheduled to kick start early next year, will see six franchises. Five original franchises – Calicut Heroes, Kochi Blue Spikers, Ahmedabad Defenders, Hyderabad Black Hawks and Chennai Blitz – will be joined by the new entrant, Bengaluru Torpedoes, owned by Ankit Nagori (founder, EatFit).

Tuhin Mishra, MD of Baseline Ventures said that even before formally going to market, the league has signed fantasy gaming company A23 as ‘Powered By’ sponsors for both on-ground and on-air for multiple seasons.

“We have already seen the quality of talent in the country; our endeavour is to provide this talent the right kind of platform to grow,” said Joy Bhattacharjya, CEO, Prime Volleyball League. “This kind of structure, where franchises are committed for the long term gives the game an opportunity to grow in a sustained manner, and that is the best thing possible for Indian volleyball.”

It is learned that all teams will have to spend close to Rs 3 crore annually. New franchises will also have an option to buy in the league.

Thomas Muthoot of the Muthoot Pappachan Group, owner of Kochi Blue Spikers, said, “Our first association with the sport in 2019 was very successful. We are delighted to continue this association with this new structure that is a win-win for both franchises and the players.”

The format offers more value to team owners and investors, and fosters long term associations and a stable financial structure.

The league will be telecast on the SPN and will be exclusively marketed by Baseline Ventures.

“There is a huge appetite for volleyball in India and in fact it was among the most watched sports during the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on our network, even though there was no Indian participation,” said Neville Bastawalla, SVP & Head – Marketing & On Air Promotions, Sports Channels at SPN. “The success of the league the last time around, combined with the high-octane action of the sport makes the PVL a great addition to the sports portfolio of SPN. We are keen to work closely with the stakeholders of the league to build both the league and the sport with viewers in India.”

Deepak Gullapalli, CEO Head Digital Works, which owns A23, said that while fantasy sports is growing at a frenetic rate, A23 is always looking to broaden the appeal of sport both within and beyond cricket.

“Volleyball, with its widespread urban and rural appeal is a huge potential growth area, and our custom designed volleyball fantasy offering will drive a whole new set of consumers to the sport,” said Gullapalli.

The league has tied up with Piston Des Sports to create a portal for potential players and coaching staff to register and get an opportunity to be a part of the action.

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