Poker Sports League: Amit Burman-promoted Poker Sports League ropes in Voot, Pocket52 as partners

MUMBAI: Dabur India chairman Amit Burman-owned Poker Sports League (PSL), the world’s biggest poker league in terms of prize pool and participation, has signed Viacom18’s video streaming service Voot as streaming partner, and Pocket52, the largest poker network in the country, as title sponsor for the third season.

The league, which will return in a virtual avatar in its third season after Covid-19 pandemic disrupted the on-ground plans, will be live streamed on Voot starting January 18th from 4 pm till midnight on every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday.

The grand finale of PSL is slated for February 20th.

ET first reported that the online qualifiers for the third season of the PSL were underway till November 22nd and a total of 80 players were selected and drafted into eight teams for the league.

“I am thrilled to announce the title sponsor and the official streaming partner for this season of PSL,” said Burman. “As an emerging gaming start-up that aggregates customers from all platforms, pools and enables them to play together real-time on their platform, Pocket52 makes for the perfect partner to be our title sponsors. More so, looking at the significant shift of content consumption towards digital platforms, it was a strategic decision to join hands with Voot for streaming of the first ever virtual poker league.”

In the last season, Discovery’s DSports was the official telecast partner for the league. With Voot replacing DSports, PSL will be the world’s first poker broadcast (with video) since Covid-19.

Owned by Mid Sports League, PSL has structured plans to organise two seasons/ leagues in a year where there will be ample branding and communication opportunities for all its sponsors. Furthermore, the league will continue to follow a 100% legal business model, with no involvement of staking and wagering.

On partnering with PSL as title sponsor, Nitesh Salvi, CEO, Pocket52, said, “Rooting from the same genes of the poker industry in India, we at Pocket 52 are immensely gratified to associate with PSL. As is the new norm, this momentous virtual tournament is going to be streamed live on the leading OTT platform of VOOT of Viacom 18 Network, for the very first time in India.”

Pocket52, a two-and-a-half year old startup already has over 1 million users and Salvi said PSL is the perfect platform for the company to amplify its reach.

Meanwhile, Voot, which claims a user base of over 100 million, will look at targeting younger audiences with PSL.

“We look forward to the opportunity to partner with Poker Sports League for their virtual avatar and amplify a joint reach to the viewers while keeping them entertained. With the partnership we hope to reach critical mass and break out into a new trajectory. Furthermore, we really like the fact that Poker has very active community engagement, so we expect a lot of repeat viewing, by the fans. We definitely are quite happy to be investing in this amplification because I believe this is the right time to include the sport. Especially when OTT itself is moving away from lean-back experience to lean-in experience,” said Gourav Rakshit, COO – Viacom18 Digital Ventures.

While Rakshit accepted that the poker playing community is not very large at the moment, he said that there is a lot of repeat viewing.

Pranav Bagai, CEO and co-founder, PSL, said, “Our majority of the audience are tech savvy, young adults under the age of 35 who choose to spend their time on digital platforms rather than television leading us to opt for an OTT platform. The game of poker to many may seem tedious and thus, to make it appealing to a larger audience our association with Voot apart from the live streaming of the league will also air an exclusive behind the scene, reality show. With a dose of entertainment, these clips will provide insights and understanding of the player’s perception towards life and game.”

Bagai added that PSL’s association with Voot will provide sponsors a better branding platform and will also help the league reach out to millions of potential viewers across the country and grow the popularity of online poker tournaments in India.

PSL has been a catalyst in the growth story and has led to an impactful and noticeable improvement in monetisation while adapting to the changing circumstances. This is not just lucrative for active players but also for the industry operators to invest, to create, and to expand the ecosystem.

PSL has been backed and supported by Indian chess grandmaster Viswanathan Anand since its inception.

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