Sports

Nearly INR 100 crore generated in two seasons of Ultimate Kho Kho League, says CEO – Magazine Creations

New Delhi: Ultimate Kho Kho (UKK), the franchise league backed by Dabur’s Amit Burman and the Indian Kho Kho Federation, has invested approx. $100 crore between the first and second seasons, said Tenzing Niyogi, CEO of the league Mint.

The league is now preparing for the second season, scheduled to begin next December in Odisha.

Last week, Kho Kho Sports League Private Limited, the company behind UKK, successfully closed a Series A funding round, raising an undisclosed amount from FinNest Sport, a UK-based entity owned by Biswanath’s BNP Venture Capital Limited Patnaik. This is the first time that any sports league in India has received private equity funding. In addition, the league’s franchise owners subsequently invested $3.9 crore in player pool, comprising athletes from 18 states.

The foundation for building the sports business was laid in 2018. Burman has committed to and invested in $Rs 200 crore will be deployed over five years, with the aim of developing grassroots sports, marketing and television production.

“The incoming private equity funds will help us boost our valuation and help us reimagine the game on a global level. The sport is played in 33 countries, and that is where the opportunity lies. Our spending on building the league will increase due to the nature of the production,” Neogi said. With these two investments in mind, Niyogi expects profitability to be achieved within the fourth year of operations.

The inaugural season of the game saw six teams competing in the Badminton Hall inside the Shri Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex in Pune. According to BARC data shared by the association, the majority of TV viewers (about 19%) belong to the 2-14 age group. The second highest viewership segment was 15-21 year olds, accounting for 17% of total viewing. During its first season, the game received a cumulative viewership of 35 million on television and an additional six million on video streaming platforms across India.

“Many of our counterparts who run non-cricket leagues in the US are surprised to learn that there is a league that has achieved 165 million in viewership, including those on social media,” he added. “These are unheard-of numbers for the first time in A league for a sport other than cricket.

This year, the league aims to double its viewership. “We did not expect such a strong response from the Tier 1 cities. However, markets like Karnataka, Kolkata, Pune, Mumbai, Telangana and Delhi surprised us,” Niyogi said. The company observed the highest viewer retention from Hindi-speaking markets. The first season of UKK had an even split Between rural and urban areas, 59% of its viewers are male, and the remaining 41% are female.

But a few months ago, according to media reports, the league faced some resistance from franchises. Neogi explained that these issues have been addressed. A call was held to review the franchise and assurances were given regarding the sponsorship and business plan for the second season. “They (the franchisees) wanted some financial relief and wanted to know if we were following the same financial model. The issue was also about a clear time frame for next season to take place, which has also been addressed now that we have deadlines and a clear window for dates from our broadcaster.” .

Care is pooled centrally. The sport is played in a one-hour format with shorter games. It includes six teams, extends over three weeks, and includes about 30 matches. The league could add up to six more teams over time. Currently, government and corporate entities, including Odisha Sports Development and Promotion Company, GMR Sports, Adani Sportsline, Capri Global, Punit Balan Group and KLO Sports, own franchises in the league.

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Updated: November 29, 2023, 12:53 PM IST

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