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IPL rights value set to soar as broadcast-rights bidding process set to begin on 17 July

MUMBAI: With the curtain falling on the 10th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) and the Mumbai Indians lifting the trophy, the attention will now shift to who wins the next cycle of TV and the digital rights for the cash-rich T20 league and at what price. This will set the tone for the new valuation of the IPL and the future health of sports broadcasting in India.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) will open the IPL media rights bidding process from 17 July. Unlike the previous 10-year cycle, the new rights will be awarded for a period of five years.

Sony Pictures Networks India (SPNI), the incumbent TV rights holder, and Star India will make aggressive bids for the IPL rights. Star India currently owns the digital and overseas media rights for the IPL. Discovery Communications, which recently entered the sports broadcasting business in India with the launch of a sports channel called DSPORT, is also expected to bid for the TV rights.

The digital rights for the cash-rich T20 league will also have bidders from new players. Besides Star and Sony, other prospective bidders for the rights are Amazon, Reliance Jio Digital Services, which has a streaming service in Jio TV, and social media giants Twitter and Facebook, which are looking at having a live sports play in India in line with their international strategy.

The rights fee for the IPL is set to more than double in value. 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 certain media rights for Rs 302 crore (Rs 3.02 billion).

Besides the media rights, the BCCI will also begin the tender process for allocating the title sponsorship rights of the IPL on 31 May. Mobile handset manufacturer Vivo is the current title sponsorship rights holder.

The BCCI under former president Anurag Thakur had begun the process of selling the IPL media rights. The tender process was kicked off in September last year but had to be stalled due to the tussle between the Lodha Committee and the board. The Supreme Court had appointed Lodha Committe to reform the BCCI.

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 tenders.

Even as the companies were planning to submit their bids, the process got cancelled. The BCCI was expected to announce the IPL rights winners on 25 October, which was also the last date for submission of bids.

The BCCI had split the IPL media rights into three different packages. The Indian subcontinent TV rights were for 10 years from 2018-2027 while the Indian subcontinent digital rights were for five years from 2018-2022. The rest of the world (ROW) media rights were for five years from 2018-2022.

Apart from the media rights, the tender process for title sponsorship and Request for Proposal (RFP) for IPL Event Services contract will be floated on 31 May and 12 June respectively.

The two rights cycle are also for a period of five years.

The IPL governing council met on Saturday to finalise the timelines of various tender processes. Members of the Committee of Administrators (CoA) Vinod Rai, Vikram Limaye and Diana Edulji were also present.

“I’m pleased that both the governing council and CoA members have finalised the timelines for the next rights period. If the success of 2017 season is an indication, I believe we will be able to get the best value and service for the world’s premier Twenty20 extravaganza. The early announcement will also help the prospective bidders/service providers to prepare well,” IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla said.

Vinod Rai, the chairman of the court-appointed CoA said, “I’m confident about the process and would like to assure all prospective participants the highest level of transparency and accountability.”

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