Ahead of the sixth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL), defending champion Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) seems to be close to winning the game on a different pitch. Chief Executive Officer Venky Mysore tells Digbijay Mishra the franchisee would record significant profit in 2012-13. Edited excerpts:
Since you took charge of KKR, the franchisee has seen significant improvement, both on and off the field. What so you attribute this to?
KKR has made headlines for its strong financial health. Where do you stand now and what is your outlook?
We achieved break-even in March 2012. So, profit is on the cards. There would be significant profit, as we treat a business like a business. Audits are underway and some tax angles are there.
So, I cannot specify a figure. But it should be significant.
How do you treat a sporting extravaganza such as IPL as a business?
There are two sides to it. First, we play on the field - that is the product. The second part is the branding business.
If someone is investing, you expect some sort of return.
If you don't treat it like a business and don't do the needful, you wouldn't get any return. Unless there is a good combination of on-field performance with the brand business, it wouldn't work.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is interested in IPL, as well as KKR. What are her plans for IPL-6?
Today, I met her at Writers' Building and she accepted our invitation - she would be there on the opening night and the first match at Eden Gardens. The state government has been kind to give us a tax exemption on tickets up to Rs 1,000. We only pay entertainment taxes for tickets priced more than Rs 1,000.
For IPL, you are tying up with many local brands. Why?
This is a conscious effort, considering the way IPL teams function. There is a strong sense of a community. Local brands deepen our relations and make our presence stronger. All other national brands have stayed with us; we have been very lucky. New associations, such as the one we signed today with Specialty Restaurants, add to the brand equity.
As you are the defending champion, footfall at the stadiums is expected to increase. Have you raised ticket prices?
We took a conscious decision to keep the prices unchanged so that more people could come and extend support to us. So far, ticket sales have been bang-on. I hope we continue to have full-house matches.
You are also at the helm of Red Chillies Entertainment. What are your plans for it?
It has been only four weeks since I have taken on that role. We would focus on our core strength. In the coming days, the VFX (visual effects) business would be one of the major growth drivers.