IPL media rights: BCCI hits jackpot

THE THREE-DAY e-auction of media rights for the IPL’s 2023-2027 cycle has fetched the BCCI Rs 48,390 crore, with Disney-Star bagging TV rights for the Indian subcontinent and Viacom18/ Reliance sweeping the digital segment.

The bidding was done on a per-game basis, which means the rights holders will collectively pay the cricket board Rs 118.02 crore per match for the next five-year cycle. Currently, there are 74 matches in every IPL season, and the number is likely to go up. Over a five-year period, the total number is going to be 410.

Disney-Star bagged Package A – TV rights for the Indian subcontinent – for Rs 23,575 crore.

Viacom18/ Reliance, which picked up Packages B and C, will pay the board Rs 23,758 crore — B covers digital rights for the Indian subcontinent and C a special bouquet of 18 matches per season with non-exclusive digital rights for the same region.

Viacom18 and Times shared Package D — world rights for TV and digital — for Rs 1,057 crore. To put these numbers in perspective, Star India had won the IPL media rights for the 2018-2022 cycle with a composite bid of Rs 16,347.5 crore that included both TV and digital, paying Rs 54.5 crore per match.

This time, the IPL media rights value saw a three-fold increase with digital turning out to be the key component. After setting the combined base price at Rs 32,890 crore, the BCCI expected a windfall in excess of Rs 45,000 crore — and it wasn’t off the mark. Doing away with composite bids, with an eye on higher bids in the digital segment, marked the highlight of its business strategy.

“India has seen a digital revolution & the sector has endless potential. The digital landscape has changed the way cricket is watched. It has been a big factor in the growth of the game & the Digital India vision,” BCCI secretary Jay Shah tweeted after the e-auction.

The fourth edition of the Indian Over-the-Top (OTT) Platforms Report 2021 (post-pandemic consumption), published by MICA Ahmedabad this year, showed that digital subscriptions grew by 49 per cent. Consumption was highest among viewers aged 15-34 — an age-group that caters to the IPL’s die-hard fan base.

Then again, Disney-Star’s digital platform Hotstar was instrumental in bringing about the change, taking the game to consumers’ mobile phones. The move was masterminded by Uday Shankar, the erstwhile chairman-cum-CEO of Star India, who had pulled off a Packer-like coup in cricket broadcasting in 2017. Five years down the line, Shankar was on Viacom18/Reliance’s side as the company staved off Star’s aggressive bidding, it is learnt. “The BCCI will utilise the revenue generated from IPL to strengthen our domestic cricket structure starting from grassroots, to boost infrastructure and spruce up facilities across India and enrich the overall cricket-watching experience,” Shah posted.

“Now, it’s time for state associations, IPL franchises to work together with the IPL to enhance the fan experience and ensure that our biggest stakeholder — ‘the cricket fan’ is well looked after and enjoys high quality cricket in world-class facilities,” he wrote.

The BCCI has already announced a substantial hike in monthly pensions of former cricketers and umpires, benefiting around 900 personnel, with effect from June 1.

The Indian Express had reported before the auction that the IPL’s per-game value for the next cycle would trump the English Premier League and make it the No. 2 sports league in the world behind the National Football League (NFL). At $15.1 million per game (converted to US dollars), the IPL comfortably leapt past the Premier League, where the broadcasters pay around $11 million per match. Shah called it a “red-letter day for Indian cricket”.

But with cricket taken seriously as a commercial proposition in just about 10 countries, the big question is: will recouping the money be a problem?

“With 60 per cent of the current advertisers being start-ups and with the muted global funding mood, it will not be easy for broadcasters to recover the investment for at least an initial couple of years of the contract period…(They) may have to go through a rough period,” Himanshu Arora, co-founder of marketing and advertising agency Social Panga, told The Indian Express.

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As for cricket, according to an IPL franchise executive, an exponential growth in media rights revenue is likely to increase the team purse also. At the moment, it has been set at Rs 95 crore and Rs 100 crore for the next two years.

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