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Discovery, YuppTV new buyers of bid document for IPL media rights

MUMBAI: Discovery Communications and Emerald Media-backed OTT operator YuppTV are the new players who could make a bid for the IPL media rights.

The two companies have bought bid documents for the Indian Premier League (IPL) media rights. While Discovery has launched a sports channel DSport and could be looking at TV rights, YuppTV could eye digital rights.

Companies who had earlier purchased documents will not have to buy again. Eighteen companies including Star India, Amazon Seller Services, Followon Interactive Media, Taj TV India, Sony Pictures Networks, Times Internet, Supersport International, Reliance Jio Digital Services, Gulf DTH FZ, GroupM Media India, beIN IP, Econet Media, SKY UK, ESPN Digital Media (India), BTG Legal Services, BT, Twitter and Facebook had bought tender documents earlier.

The BCCI had reopened the IPL bids on 21 July after the earlier process got cancelled with the Supreme Court-appointed Lodha Committe refusing to give the BCCI permission to go ahead with it.

Discovery will be interested in the TV rights. It is not clear though whether it will make a serious bid. The company recently hired former CEO of Hathway Digital’s video business TS Panesar to head DSport in India.

In February, Discovery made its entry into the sports broadcasting business in India with the launch of DSport. The focus of the channel currently rests on sports like football, horse racing, rugby, motorsports and cycling.

The digital media rights of the IPL will touch a new roof and YuppTV, which raised $50 million from Emerald Media, may not have a big appetite to make a serious bid. The OTT player has shown interest in digital rights of sports content for overseas markets. In May, YuppTV acquired exclusive digital rights for the recently concluded ICC Champions Trophy 2017 for Canada while in Continental Europe it was non-exclusive.

Apart from broadcasters Star India and Sony, the serious contenders for digital rights could be Amazon and Reliance Jio.

Sony’s new deal with the BCCI, which was signed in 2009, was worth over Rs 8,200 crore (Rs 82 billion). Star India-owned Novi Digital, which runs VoD service Hotstar, had bagged the three-year global Internet and mobile rights for Rs 302 crore (Rs 3.02 billion).

The new cycle of media rights will be for five years running through 2022. The last date for buying the tender document is 24 August and the winner is likely to be announced on 28 August.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has sought the response of BCCI on why IPL media rights should not be e-auctioned to bring out the best price and transparency in the bidding process. It has asked the cricket board to file its reply within two weeks.

BJP leader Subramanian Swamy had moved the Supreme Court demanding e-auction of the IPL media rights. According to him, the amount involved in the award of IPL media rights is to the tune of Rs 30,000 crore and the issue should not be decided in an opaque manner. His contention has been that  e-auction would bring transparency to the whole process as it has done in the case of telecom and coal auctions.

Several potential bidders of the upcoming IPL media rights prefer e-auction to determine the winners while BCCI officials feel that the current system of traditional sealed tender would enable the cricket board to earn maximum revenue.