IPL media auction: There’s a world beyond the fanciest T20 league investors will look forward to | Cricket News – Times of India

MUMBAI: Neither in the past has it happened, nor in the future will this circumstance likely repeat – a single broadcaster owning the rights to the Indian Premier League (IPL), the International Cricket Council (ICC) and BCCI-bilateral, all at the same time.
Between 2018 and 2022, Star India (Disney, now) owned the rights to all these three properties, making it the most unique cycle cricket will ever see. Going forward, no global broadcaster will find it feasible to buy more than just one of these rights packages, or at best two, given the changing dynamics.
Let’s look at the why and how of it, and impending scenarios that will be altering the ‘course of play’ going forward.
In 2011, when Star India restructured and reinvented itself in the Asian markets as one of the multiple broadcast units of Fox International Channels, they arrived here with one job to do: Amplify the scale and size of their business to such gargantuan proportions that potential buyers would line up in due time, costs notwithstanding. What they had to do was step-up the jazz.
They did, starting with a swanky 37-storey building for an office in one of Mumbai’s plushest suburbs.
Everything they did was eye-catching, mind-boggling. They paid US$1.98b to bag ICC rights for the 2015-23 cycle – an 80% hike from the previous deal (US dollar stood at Rs 62.33). They paid US$2.55b to bag IPL rights for the 2018-22 cycle – a four-and-half-time jump from the previous deal (US dollar stood at Rs 67.79). They paid just under a billion dollars, Rs 6,138 crore to be precise, in 2018 (US dollar stood at Rs 70) to bag the BCCI-bilateral.
All put together, Star committed approximately US$5.5b – apropos of inflation and the varying value of the dollar between 2014 and 2018 – to Indian cricket and the ICC.
At today’s dollar value – Rs 74.68 – just the IPL alone is speculated to get sold for that sum, US$5.5b, or probably more which totals up to an approximate Rs 40,000 crore. And this is just speculation.
“Any company / consortium looking to do what Star did between 2014 and 2018 will be looking at an approximate US$10b-spend,” say industry executives documenting these transitions. “Or maybe more, who knows?”
No single broadcast player, even with diversified interests across linear, digital and any futuristic tech-based medium will invest this kind of money for a five-year cycle. “And that’s where, the competition – as much as it’ll be fierce to grab the IPL rights more than any other – will get fragmented across markets, which is good for the game to a large extent,” he adds.
If ‘X’ party ends up winning the IPL rights, ‘Y’ will still be left with an opportunity to eye the ICC, ‘Z’ will still have an opportunity to eye BCCI-bilateral. Smaller players will still be left with an opportunity to look at bilateral rights overseas. Think of the customary Indian ‘thali’ – there’s always space for something extra.
In 2017-18, this wasn’t the case. “That’s because there were only two global broadcast players outside of regional giants like Sky in the UK and Fox or Channel 9 in Australia. Especially from an India sub-continent perspective, that caters to more eyeballs than any. That was Star and Sony. So, when Star kept all ICC, IPL, and BCCI rights; Sony went shopping in the UK and Australia and bargained a price that came cheap. That won’t be the case this time around. Because there’ll be more players than one,” say those watching developments.
Here’s where a company like Amazon, one that’s been silent and busy testing territories, figuring engagement models, will be a serious player. An Amazon may or may not bid for the IPL – depending on what alliance it can form pre or post-bid – there’s no saying yet, “but they will always remain top-contenders for, let’s say, the ICC rights if they let go of the IPL,” they add.
Why? “Because it allows them global footing, better pricing, yearly engagement and potentially wider markets to consolidate revenues”.
Amazon is just an example. Allow the mind to wander. It could be the Zee-Sony combine eyeing UK and Australian territories if they fail to grab IPL. The Viacom-JV may target only global T20 leagues and stay away from every other format. Disney may only want all Indian cricket and nothing else. We don’t know who’s walking in which direction and why. “All these possibilities would be in the planning stages right now,” say those tracking developments. “The first priority is the IPL. So, the real game will begin only once the IPL rights get sold”.
In that lies a question that all other cricket boards outside of the proverbial ‘Big Three’ – India, England, and Australia – must answer for themselves starting now: What kind of purchasing power do they have at the ICC? The game’s global governing body is in the middle of finalizing the next Future Tours Program (FTP) – and probably, they already have. But what is the ICC doing, at a global level, to protect bilateral cricket and invest in its future?
Outside of the federation’s effort to have one World Cup or an ICC trophy tournament every year, is there a robust plan to ensure country-versus-country cricket – not including India vs England, India vs Australia, India vs South Africa and the Ashes – keeps thriving?
“If these cricket boards are not asking this question right now, they’re doing themselves a great disservice,” say those anticipating the near and distant future.
They must remember, there will be takers.

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