Tamil Nadu Premier League is full of possibilities, says CEO

The eight-team competition, to be spread over three weeks, is slated to begin in the last week of August.

Prasanna Kannan did not rule out a movie celebrity buying a franchise.   -  AP

Prasanna Kannan has to put the pieces together in the days ahead. He is confident the picture will be complete in time.

As the CEO of the recently launched Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL), the 35-year-old Prasanna has a busy period in front. He is not new to the demanding world of cricket management.

Prasanna was Manager - Commercial and Business Services, in the IPL between 2008 and 2011. Then, he served as the Compliance (commercial) Manager of the BCCI from 2011 to 2015.

“The TNPL is full of possibilities,” he said to Sportstar here on Wednesday. “It is also a challenge. Apart from the commercial aspect, a lot of focus will be on improving infrastructure in the districts,” he added.

The eight-team competition, to be spread over three weeks, is slated to begin in the last week of August.

Prasanna said, “Already people have shown a lot of interest. At least 14 to 15 prospective bidders have made enquiries.”

He felt it was important that the franchises — the base price has been set at Rs. 1.25 crore per year — broke even and started making profits as soon as possible. “It depends on the business model. In the IPL, some teams broke even in the first year itself while a few others could do so only in the fourth year.”

The TNPL CEO said, “This is why we have ruled that the teams should be named either after the districts or some towns in the district. It will be easier for the team owner to find sponsors from the district of a team.”

Prasanna did not rule out a movie celebrity buying a franchise. The names of some leading Kollywood heroes have been doing the rounds. “It could happen, depending on the bidding process. Someone like Shah Rukh Khan being the owner helped the Kolkata Knight Riders enormously because he was able to bring his own sponsors to his franchise. The same thing could happen with a Tamil movie celebrity. It could also bring more fans to the competition, lift the profile of the tournament.”

Talking about the media rights — the reserve price has been fixed Rs. 7 crore — Prasanna expected intense competition. “We have bundled together the television, internet and mobile rights. We have seen a trend in the last two years where the mobile service providers have been very aggressive during bidding for the media rights. They want exclusive rights for streaming matches live on phones. Then they sub-license internet and television rights. The TNPL will allow sub-licensing. We could also have a television channel winning the bid and sub-license other rights.”

Prasanna saw a huge market for TNPL. “What we saw in IPL till last year was that the Chennai Super Kings matches had more than twice the number of hits on the net as the other games. Given the number of Tamils in the other States in India as well in countries such as Malaysia, Singapore, UAE, the United Kingdom and the USA, the TNPL will be followed by a lot of people.”

He can’t wait for the action to begin.

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