WORLD BOWLING LEAGUE ANNOUNCE STRIKING PLANS FOR THE SPORT
Ten-pin bowling is set to be reimagined as an engaging commercial entity. Adi K Mishra, founder and Chief Executive of League Sports Co, explains why the project is vital for the future of the sport as a whole.
DUBAI, UAE, Oct. 5, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Any sport that claims to have more than 150 million regular participants worldwide has enormous potential.
Add a sprinkling of celebrity stardust, stunning competition locations and a focus on digital engagement, and League Sports Co (LSC) has the recipe to transform the popular pastime of ten-pin bowling into a global juggernaut.
League Sports Co – under its previous name, XTZ Esports Tech – announced last year that it had struck a deal that will run for up to 20 years with the International Bowling Federation to drive innovation, growth, and investment in the sport.
Primarily, this will involve the launch in 2024 of the World Bowling League (WBL), which will aim to redefine the appeal of bowling through the WBL Pro Tour and WBL Global calendars for fans and competitors alike, as well as broadcasters, sponsors, agencies and bookmakers.
For LSC founder and chief executive Adi K Mishra, it is an unmissable opportunity to introduce a unifying and engaging structure to a sport that already benefited from passionate professional, semi-professional and grassroots participants.
The World Bowling League aims to expand the existing base and capture a mass audience through a Pro Tour and a ‘premier aspirational product’ that has innovation at its core – from the ambitious competition locations right down to the lane designs, balls and scoring, Mishra says. “At League Sports Co, we have been actively investing time and capital over the last 18 months to bring about much needed change and updates across all aspects of the sport,” he adds.
The launch of WBL Global, represents the creation of a property that Mishra describes as an ‘aspirational product that bowling deserves’ by elevating the sport to a mainstream stature. With franchise teams in competition, cutting-edge technological solutions will be integrated, along with strategic elements like reverse scoring and restricted throws, helping to build an engaged fan base.
With WBL, late-stage discussions are taking place with famous names around becoming league-level investors, with a couple of well-known global celebrities already closed and soon to be announced.
WBL Global will feature between 12-15 events per year in iconic locations in the US, UK, Saudi Arabia, Dubai, India, Singapore, South Korea and Japan amongst other nations, with hopes of expanding the calendar in three to five years’ time. It is anticipated that between 8-12 franchise teams will compete in season one, with each having a gender-balanced squad of between four and six competitors.
It is also noteworthy that at least two people in each four-person WBL team will be female, helping to underline the equality at the heart of a sport that is age-agnostic and gender-balanced.
The overall vision is designed to benefit the sport as a whole, as well as the wider industry, such as venues, brands and manufacturers, by strengthening engagement with younger audiences and making bowling more sustainable.
Furthermore, the athletes themselves will benefit from unprecedented financial incentives within the sport. Collective prize money across WBL properties will reach $3–5m in year one, with hopes of hitting $10m in year two, depending on growth.
For Mishra and LSC there is no shortage of ambition. “In five years, I expect the WBL to transform bowling into a leading aspirational product for both athletes and viewers,” he says. “Athletes will be competing for significant prize money, elevating the sport’s commercial appeal and status. Financially, I anticipate the league to be highly profitable, backed by a global audience that spans multiple age groups and demographics. The commercial side will be robust, driven by sponsorships, merchandising, and media rights and we are in preliminary discussions with cities worldwide.”
There is certainly a compelling story to tell, not just in terms of global interest in the sport, but also how the WBL is investing in the future of bowling more broadly.
“We are observing an expanding footprint [for bowling] in key markets like Asia, the Middle East and Scandinavian countries, in addition to an already massive base in North and South America,” Mishra adds, underlining a unique opportunity for media and commercial growth that can support an exciting future for the sport. “Bowling is accessible and familiar but has been traditionally unstructured undermarketed, even though the first athlete ever to get a million-dollar sponsorship was Don Carter, a legend of the sport. With the introduction of the World Bowling League suite of products we intend to bring back the commercial allure of bowling.”
A full keynote detailing the introduction of WBL and its associated plans can be seen here.
For further information about WBL please visit worldbowlingleague.org
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