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‘Star’ring a ‘new’ sport in India: pro kabaddi league

Tulsi Jayakumar (Department of Economics, S P Jain Institute of Management and Research, Mumbai, India)

Publication date: 1 December 2020


Learning outcomes

To understand: – the demand and supply side challenges in launching a new product in sports. – Factors, which go into the making of a successful “new” sport. – The role of planning in sport management.

Case overview/synopsis

In July 2017, on the eve of Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) Season 5, kabaddi had emerged as one of India’s most important non-cricketing sport. PKL was India’s first men’s professional kabaddi league, introduced by Mashal Sports and Star India in 2014. Kabaddi was an indigenous sport, and India had an unbeaten international track record as world champions. Yet, the sport and its players had never received their due in India. In 2017, while kabaddi’s popularity had increased, leading to sponsorship opportunities, huge player bids, prize money and television viewership, all was not quite hunky-dory. A women’s kabaddi league introduced only the previous year had not been continued, despite an extended format in 2017. The audience profile also did not match that envisaged by Star. As a unique creator of sports content, Star was in an enviable position in India; and so was Kabaddi as a sport. How had Star created a new property around an indigenous sport with rural and rustic associations, transforming it into a snazzy, up-market sport within just three years, even while leagues involving other popular sports failed to create a mark? Could Star sustain this interest? How could kabaddi retain its “star” position within Star’s stable?

Complexity academic level

In an undergraduate or a postgraduate programme in business administration.

Supplementary materials

Teaching notes are available for educators only.

Subject code

CSS 11: Strategy.



Jayakumar, T. (2020), "‘Star’ring a ‘new’ sport in India: pro kabaddi league", , Vol. 10 No. 4.



Emerald Publishing Limited Bingley, United Kingdom

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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