Ultimate Kho Kho became first sports league in India to secure private equity investment – Tenzing Niyogi

Ultimate Kho Kho became first sports league in India to secure private equity investment – Tenzing Niyogi

Tenzing Niyogi has spoken about the dynamics of the overall sports industry.

Tenzing Niyogi

Mumbai: Day by day sports culture is reduced by many factors. The role of physical games replaced by eSports, playstation, and virtual games. However physical sports are still valuable. It is not just for discipline but engagement of human psychology to deliver mental and physical results. Other than cricket, few traditional sports are still underrated. Kho Kho is the game of ' Challengers'. It can be a better game for enthusiasts but training and molding Kho Kho enthusiasts is difficult. To improve awareness about Kho Kho as an International sport program few of the people are working hard to keep Kho Kho alive. Not only alive but also making Kho Kho stronger.

In the latest interaction, Indiantelevision.com exclusively spoke to Tenzing Niyogi CEO and league commissioner of Ultimate Kho Kho. Sports and business management are indigenous sides. Tenzing Niyogi has spoken about the dynamics of the sports industry.

Sports management and project management are also paramount for keeping sports alive and building a sports economy. Revenue is part of the secondary process of building the sports ecosystem in India along with giving a platform for sports players.

To speak about the second season of Ultimate Kho Kho Niyogi shared his input on  ongoing events in the sports industry and his perspectives on Kho Kho sports.

With more than 16 years of experience across Sports strategy planning, broadcasting, sponsorship, and development of leagues/sports IPs and events, Ultimate Kho Kho Tenzing Niyogi is initiating a new era for homegrown and indigenous sports in India.

Here are excerpts -

On Kho Kho worldwide recognition and awareness -

Kho Kho holds a special place in the memories of many, being a sport that most people have played during their school days. Even those unfamiliar with the game can easily grasp its dynamics when watching it. Remarkably, Kho Kho is currently played in 25 countries worldwide, attesting to its wide popularity. In the Indian context, the sport enjoys widespread popularity across states like Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha with a particularly strong following in Maharashtra. The key lies in bringing Kho Kho into the spotlight, allowing people to reconnect with the sport and fostering a closer connection between enthusiasts and this traditional game.

The purpose of Ultimate Kho Kho is to market and package India's indigenous sport of Kho Kho into a professional structure. The initiative aims to bring India's very own home-grown sport to the forefront and make it the most sought-after sports league in India. The league strives to elevate the age-old Indian sport to international standards and allow young talents to showcase their skills in front of a pan-India and global audience.  While maintaining the strategic core of traditional Kho Kho, Ultimate Kho Kho, is a reimagined version which brings dynamic elements that demand players to adapt swiftly to evolving scenarios, ensuring a thrilling and captivating experience for both participants and spectators alike.

On the future of Kho Kho in India -

We hope to make Kho Kho the next big thing, just like cricket, hockey or football. To achieve this, we are on a mission to strategically rebrand the sport, igniting heightened interest and enthusiasm among the viewers.

Elevating the status of the sport is imperative and that can be done especially by emphasizing the need to celebrate and glamorize the sport. Building sports heroes within the realm of this sport is pivotal, as these icons can genuinely inspire a new wave of players to embrace it. Equally crucial is the meticulous training of these athletes, ensuring their physical and strategic prowess is honed to perfection. The preparation is geared towards enabling them to exhibit their absolute best when avid viewers tune in from the comfort of their television screens and are hooked to the screen, afraid not to miss out on any action.

Embracing change, we have introduced modifications that infuse dynamism into the game, rendering it fast-paced and more enthralling for the audience. Securing sponsorships and attracting investors is undeniably a critical factor in taking any league ahead and we have 10 to 12 corporates who have shown keen interest to invest which is a great win for us, setting great prospects in favour of the game. Ultimate Kho Kho also became the first sports league in India to secure private equity investment from the UK-based BNP Group aiming to elevate the trajectory of Kho-Kho both within India and on a global scale.

This sport unquestionably possesses the potential to transform into a successful commercial IP, provided it receives the appropriate mix of strategic promotion, financial support, and audience-focused approach.

On grassroot sports development -

This initiative, blending tradition with innovation, promises to reignite the passion for Kho Kho and captivate both players and sports enthusiasts. The inaugural season accumulated a considerable viewership of 164 million across various media platforms which was huge.

I got interested in Kho Kho during my visit to Ichalkaranji in Maharashtra which introduced me to the rural and indigenous version of the game. The idea of creating the Ultimate Kho Kho league came to me when I imagined the sport's potential on TV, especially in an indoor arena with close-up camera shots. My aim is to inspire the youth and give the opportunity to support the traditional sport Kho Kho. The league ensures viewers are able to feel the intensity and thrill of the sport and are constantly amused by the live action of these players.

To enrich the spectator experience, Ultimate Kho Kho employs modern technologies for enhanced broadcasting. It is the first league to bring Spider Cam in an indoor league in India. Ultimate Kho Kho is also the first that brought the Sheffield plate to be used in India. It spins, and we use it especially for pole dives, that's what you see in the super slow motion - a close-up of the pole and of skydives. Providing viewers cool coverage, smart commentary, and interesting analysis all help to grab their attention. The introduction of professional leagues, featuring regional franchises, intensifies competition and fosters a sense of loyalty among fans and helps to uplift the sport.

On current infrastructure for Kho Kho players -

Despite the diverse and rich sports culture in India, certain disciplines like Kho Kho, Kabaddi, Wrestling, Gymnastics, and others have not received the same widespread attention as cricket. Acknowledging the need for improvement, India has witnessed significant changes and reforms in sports development. The country is actively working towards becoming one of the top sporting nations, evident from the positive developments in its sports landscape.

As a testament to this commitment, Odisha stands out as a leader in fostering sports excellence, with an investment exceeding Rs 2500 crores. Notably, the state boasts the largest Sports Science Centre at the Kalinga Stadium, where athletes, including those from the Odisha Juggernaut, can benefit from advanced recovery sessions.

The dedication of the Odisha Government to sports development is further exemplified by their initiative to host Ultimate Kho Kho. We extend our gratitude to Chief Minister Shri Naveen Patnaik for inviting us to showcase and celebrate the passion for sports in a state that is actively working towards uplifting both sports and its people.

On second season of ultimate Kho Kho -

Ultimate Kho Kho is promoted by Amit Burman, and is in collaboration with Kho Kho Federation of India. The primary goal is to enhance the presence of the sport by establishing India's first professional Kho Kho League. The inaugural season received an enthusiastic response, with a substantial viewership of 164 million across diverse media platforms and an impressive 225 million video views on various social media channels.

Notably, Ultimate Kho Kho has swiftly ascended to a prominent position among the top three non-cricketing leagues in India, underscoring its growing significance in the sporting landscape. A remarkable aspect of its success is the inclusive appeal, with 41 per cent of the viewership comprising a female audience. Considering the recent inception of the league, these achievements signify a noteworthy milestone. Having captivated the audience's attention, the focus is towards maintaining and building upon this momentum, ensuring a sustained engagement with Kho Kho enthusiasts.

On brand campaign for promoting Ultimate Kho Kho-

The primary goal is to cultivate broad appeal for the game, aiming to capture the essence of its unique features such as pole diving, skydive, power play, and the inherent speed and agility demanded by the sport. Our tagline, "India Maar Chalaang," reflects the superhero-like airborne dives of the players. By establishing a robust foundation of enthusiasm and support, we envision evolving the game into a widely recognized sporting entity.

Our widespread involvement on social media highlights the global anticipation for Ultimate Kho Kho. It demonstrates the sport's appeal transcending borders, creating a loyal and dedicated fan base. The fact that we have top Indian Corporates and Sports investors backing the League as franchise teams like Chennai Quick Guns owned by KLO Sports, Gujarat Giants by Adani Sportsline, Mumbai Khiladis by Punit Balan Group, Odisha Juggernauts supported by Government of Odisha, Rajasthan Warriors by Capri Global Group and Telugu Yoddhas by GMR Sports underscores the immense potential of the league. Their involvement not only brings financial backing but also lends a sense of legitimacy to the sport, attracting attention and investment from diverse quarters.

Brand campaigns are in the thought process but currently our focus is to build a successful second edition of Ultimate Kho Kho.

On future prediction for Kho Kho in next 10 years -

Kho Kho stands out as a sport rich in strategy, speed, and agility—a perfect blend of elements that make any sport enjoyable. Spectators find themselves deeply engrossed in the game, feeling the pulse and intensity of the players' actions, making it evident that the sport holds tremendous growth potential. The idea that a Kho Kho league would be conceptualized and televised nationally was once unimaginable, yet it has become a reality. The fact that Kho Kho, once confined to local fields and regional tournaments, now graces the national television screens is a testament to its growing popularity and acceptance. The sport has transcended its traditional boundaries, reached a wider audience and brought the exhilarating gameplay to the masses.

Over the next decade, we anticipate witnessing a cohort of highly refined players elevating our traditional sport, the earthy game of Kho Kho, to a global stature. We are just beginning and we are sure one day Ultimate Kho Kho will outlive all of us.  

On nurturing sports culture and increasing Kho Kho accessibility -

Ultimate Kho Kho league holds the potential to revolutionize the accessibility and popularity of the traditional sport by implementing a multifaceted approach.

The burgeoning fan culture surrounding the league is a testament to its growing popularity. More and more youngsters are actively participating in the sport, indicating a positive shift in its demographic appeal. Notably, 33 players in the Ultimate Kho Kho fall within the age group of 16 to 18, suggesting a strong engagement from the youth.

To further elevate the level of competition, there is an emphasis on more advanced training for players. This commitment to enhancing player skills and capabilities reflects a dedication to the overall growth and development of the sport. By combining regular fixtures, media exposure, youth engagement, and advanced player training, Ultimate Kho Kho aspires to bring about a revolutionary change in how traditional sports are perceived and embraced.

On personal ambitions in developing the sports ecosystem -

My personal aspiration is to establish Ultimate Kho Kho as the premier sports league property, showcasing and advancing the indigenous sport to unprecedented heights. A significant component of this vision involves the strategic inclusion of the women's rendition of Ultimate Kho Kho, with the aim of expanding its influence to a broader audience. Introducing women's Ultimate Kho Kho represents a substantial milestone, symbolizing our commitment to inclusivity and making significant strides in popularizing this traditional sport on a more extensive scale.