5*5 Elite Pro Basketball League to launch in August; targets three-year breakeven

Organised by Elite Sports India (ESI), the league will feature players from across the country.

Mumbai: A 5x5 Pro Basketball League, featuring 12 teams is set to be launched in August. The Elite Pro Basketball League is being organised by Elite Sports India (ESI) and will feature players from across the country.

Speaking to, Elite Pro Basketball League CEO Sunny Bhandarkar said that 5x5 Basketball is a growing sport in India, with millions of children now playing Basketball from grade school through high school. “Our founding company ESI has been broadcasting the All-India University’s National Basketball Championship tournament since 2014; and having witnessed first-hand the growing popularity (and skills) of University Basketball, we believe the market is under-served and eager for the excitement and energy of professional-level basketball," he added.

Bhandarkar further stated that India as a whole has picked up a lot of interest in Basketball over the past few years. Much of the credit he explains goes to foreign companies pushing their content onto the Indian platforms. “While it’s great to see the youth of India follow foreign Basketball leagues, we feel that there are so many talented Indian basketball players who deserve an opportunity to play in a professional league in their country. This would also motivate the youth to practice harder and train themselves to someday become professional players for Elite Pro Basketball League. These will only and only take the level of basketball play in India to new heights,” he asserted.

When queried about the investors Bhandarkar said that there are about a dozen US-based investors (some of the Indian descent) who provided all of the initial funding for the league, and each of those investors has an ownership interest in a particular team.

“We estimate that the league will reach breakeven by year three after the league is launched in August of this year.  The league does have a large portfolio of other investors willing to provide additional league funding for several years beyond that three-year mark to spur additional growth. We have structured our teams around the key markets in the country. Eg: Mumbai, Jaipur, Delhi, Hyderabad, Chennai and so on,”  Bhandarkar mentioned.

In terms of revenue streams available for the promoters, he pointed to media rights, licensing and merchandise, pay-per-view, sponsorships, online stores, camps, ticket sales etc.

Explaining the league’s structure he said that it is not a traditional franchise model. “As I mentioned earlier, the initial investors have already acquired the rights to own a particular team. The league is not a traditional franchise model, rather it mirrors the Major League Soccer model in the US whereby there are both team owners and league owners. FYI, some team owners have also acquired ownership in the League but there will be opportunities for new investors to invest in the league; and after three years there may even be opportunities to acquire a team from one of the initial team owners.”

In terms of a broadcast partner, he said that the league is currently in talks and plans to announce its selection at a later date. On the marketing and promotional activities front, he noted that Elite Pro Basketball’s player sign-ups, drafts and selection tryouts have created a huge buzz on social media and will continue to go on as we unveil the next round of players.

“We plan to keep many exhibition games of our selected roster in various cities. The EPB star players would make appearances in schools and colleges to give away basketballs as well as conduct one-day workshops. One of the most important things we are doing here is that we are going to conduct an entire University League with EUSAI (Elite Universal Sports Alliance India) which has already partnered with 80 top universities in India to draft the best talents from the collegiate level and give the students an opportunity to go professional in our league. This will be an essential part of our strategy for years to come,” he concluded.

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