How COVID-19 will affect Premier Badminton League in January 2021

Prasad Mangipudi, Executive Director of PBL organisers Sportzlive, reveals that with the Olympics now postponed, the league will be attracting top names.

Bengaluru Raptors team celebrates after retaining the Premier Badminton League title.   -  Nagara Gopal

The next edition of the Premier Badminton League is scheduled to be held in January. However, it is usually by April each year, that the Executive Director of tournament organisers Sportzlive, Prasad Mangipudi, gets planning.

“The lockdown because of the COVID-19 and its impact on economy will have a definite impact on the PBL for sure, even though it is still eight months away,” says Prasad in a chat with Sportstar. “But, we are committed and hope to carry forward the league with our best abilities,” he insists.

“Fortunately, we have been in the process of remodelling the league as the sport itself is not only growing, but also the second-most popular in India after cricket,” he says.

“We are in touch with the stake-holders and exploring all avenues of generating enough revenue to sustain the PBL which has been held year on year since we have taken the rights of the league as the official licensee holder,” says Prasad.

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Prasad Mangipudi, Executive Director of PBL organisers Sportzlive, with the PBL trophy.   -  Special Arrangement



“To run a league like PBL is not a joke in a country where cricket is like a religion. We will have to involve more partners in the conduct, especially in marketing as we need a strong awareness and interest in the league across the country,” he said.

“Importantly, it is also time for the renewal of our broadcast contract and we have to re-draw our plans with regard to marketing rights too, as we are keen to expand the TV coverage to other countries since some of the big names in the sport like Olympic champion Carolina Marin, World No. 1 P.V. Sindhu, and Tai Tzu play in the PBL,” he explained.

“We also believe that we haven’t unlocked the full value of the digital medium as the digital viewing is becoming a primary habit for many. This is will be even more true post the corona crisis. Social distancing might become a norm. so We will evaluate the digital experience to our fans and viewers,” Prasad says.

What exactly is the budget for one edition? “Roughly the league invests about 40-45 crores and teams invest another 40 crores, so the total investment in the league is around 80-85 cr. We are interacting with the owners to finding out ways to meet their needs in the changing scenario,” Prasad said.

READ | Lockdown diaries: Run-up to Olympics will be difficult, says Srikanth

“Definitely, the emphasis will be on generating more revenue and fortunately we have highly supportive and committed investors and stakeholders in the team owners,” he added.

“Currently we are having deliberations with team owners, BAI, players and owners to figure out the way forward. By June, we should be knowing the exact plan of action,” feels Prasad.

Mangipudi also reveals that with the Olympics now postponed, PBL will attract top names.

“Well, Sindhu being the World champion for one more year as the Worlds will not be held in 2021, that is a major plus for us,” feels Prasad.

“But again, sustainability of the PBL, which other than IPL is the only league featuring the top 10 players in the world, also means economics changing. It makes us look at costs at every possible step, reducing them wherever,” he says.

“And, fortunately we are aware of where exactly we can do this given the experience of last five editions,” Prasad concluded.

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