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Bidding for IPL global media rights was a conscious decision: Uday Shankar

MUMBAI: Having the TV and digital rights to the Indian Premier League (IPL) will allow Star India to serve cricket audiences better, the company’s chairman and CEO Uday Shankar said in a press conference held shortly after it won the global IPL media rights for Rs 16,347.51 crore beating Sony Pictures Networks India and Facebook, which were the highest bidders for India TV and digital rights.

“In our case, we made a very conscious call that we will bid for the global rights because we have significant presence in each of these three universes. We have a TV presence in India. We have very a robust digital platform, which we are rolling out across the world. Our channels are distributed globally, so it made sense for us to make an attempt for the global market,” he said in a post-bidding press meet.

Shankar also said that the IPL is a powerful property and there is a lot more value that can be created for the fans of cricket and viewers on TV and digital.

On the BCCI media rights deal, which is coming up for renewal, Shankar said that cricket continues to be a huge pull for broadcasters due to its popularity.

“We have BCCI rights for a few months. After that, it is for the BCCI to decide. If this is where we are with IPL rights, you can imagine the level of competitiveness in the next set of rights. We have a lot of cricket now between IPL and ICC rights, and I think we can run a very good business,” he added.

Queried whether the addition of IPL rights gives Star more heft while negotiating with pay TV platforms, Shankar said, “Pay TV revenues are highly regulated and whoever wants to earn pay TV revenues have to operate in that framework and we will continue to do the same.”

Asked about the difference between the consolidated bid and the individual bid for each category, Shankar said that it is a matter of bidding strategy for each company. Star’s sum of parts bid for different categories added up to just Rs 7,882.47 crore.

“It is also a matter of how each company evaluates each segment of the rights. Our view was that we will be able to create a complete experience for cricket fans if we had TV and digital both. And that is why we felt that we were going to make an attempt to get TV and digital both. Otherwise, we have lived without IPL and we were happy to live without the IPL,” he noted.

Talking about the interest in the IPL digital rights, Shankar said that the country has moved from being broadband-scarce to growing video consumption market thanks to drop in data prices.

“You should see the number of people who bid for digital rights and the number of people who took interest by buying the tender document. So, that should tell you the story. I think it can become a lot more exciting depending on how the data prices behave and how the availability and access to broadband and Wi-Fi continues to grow in this country. But if that happens, it will be one of the world’s most exciting digital markets,” he stated.

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