Indian wrestling set for a major revamp; new commercial partners, broadcast model on cards

Wrestling in India is all set for a major revamp that will make the sport more aspiring. The federation has inked two key commercial deals – one significantly adds to the games financial muscle while the other one will ensure a sustained commercial growth.

The Wrestling Federation of India president, Mr Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh has been busy giving shape to his vision of fully exploring the potential of the sport in the interest of wrestling and wrestlers. “We have made wrestling in India more competitive and governance of the sport more professional. There is better exposure for all our wrestlerswith a target of supporting the next generation of wrestlers to take this legacy forward. We in the past three years have hosted three Asian-level events. A United World Wrestling global event in India is our next major aim,” says Wrestling Federation of India President Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.

“A wrestling event at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi stadium or at some non-descript akhara in a remote village in Haryana or Maharashtra will have same packed houses. People do not mind buying tickets and travel miles to catch the live action and support their favourite stars. We have seen record television ratings every time a wrestling competition is broadcast in India. We have plans to explore this potential. Our commercial partners Sporty Solutionz are working on creating a fixed broadcast calendar. That will be the ultimate boost to bring in 360° change,” adds the WFI president.

The federation has engaged the leading media and sports company Sporty Solutionz as commercial partners, who are also entrusted with the task of creating a self-sustaining commercial model for the sport. Wrestling has already been reported as one of the most watched non-cricket sports on Indian television, well ahead of various leagues in other sports disciplines.

An assured and consistent television exposure will enable the sport to garner the right values for its commercial potential. “There are not many sports with pan-India reach parallel to wrestling. It has icons, followers, credibility and a rich heritage. Brands planning their commercial campaigns always look for these traits. Wrestling will also potentially give a direct connect to brands looking for traits like strength, energy and reliability. An assured TV exposure can make wrestling and wrestlers one of the first choices for sectors like agriculture, steel, cement, heavy machinery, and say heavy commercial vehicles,” says Vinit Karnik, Business Head, ESP Properties, Group M.

WFI president has tasked Sporty Solutionz, the company that created the highly successful Indian Badminton League and Pro Wrestling League, with creating a commercial roadmap for his vision. “As WFI commercial partners our main aim is to create a system that ensures a sustained growth for wrestling. The television broadcast will be the key to this growth. The sport and the athletes who make wrestling so big have that potential. At this stage, it will not be appropriate to reveal much, but we are working on a commercial model that will have an ascertained value for wrestlers, brands associating with wrestling and the broadcasters. Fans will get a right dose of high-quality wrestling on television all through the year,” says Sporty Solutionz chief executive Ashish Chadha. “It will be like a system where one aspect of the business model will complement and supplement the other two.”

There are few Olympic sports parallel to wrestling in icons it has created, nationwide fans base, massive television ratings and a generation of aspiring youngsters with a burning desire to excels at the top. These factors make wrestling a brand the bazaar will be eager to cash on. Wrestling has taken has already made that bid stride with its new commercial partners Sporty Solutionz. One of India’s topmost brands and the WFI have inked an epochal deal. The announcement is on the cards in the next few hours. The sport is all set for a major, unprecedented revamp.