BCCI media rights headed for a three-way fight as auction moves to day 2

MUMBAI: The e-auction of the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI) media rights for bi-lateral cricket in India is turning out to be as exciting as the bidding for the Indian Premier League (IPL) media rights in September 2017, if not more.

While Star India and Sony Pictures Networks India are the usual suspects, this time the difference is Mukesh Ambani-promoted Reliance Jio’s bid for global consolidated TV and digital rights. During IPL media rights auction, Jio had limited itself to the Indian sub-continent digital rights but not this time.

The entry of Jio means that Star and Sony will have a tough battle ahead as the media rights e-auction enters the second day.

Another surprising factor on the first day of the bidding was the non-submission of bids by Google, Facebook, and YuppTV. This is in contrast to the IPL rights when Facebook, Airtel, Times Internet and YuppTV had bid aggressively for the IPL digital rights.

This has left Star, Sony and Jio as the only bidders in fray for the five-year rights. All three bidders have bid for the global consolidated rights comprising TV+ digital.

Altogether six companies had picked up the bid documents. Discovery Communications India, which runs DSport, has chosen to completely stay away from the BCCI media rights bidding.

The first bid in the e-auction was Rs 4176 crore for the global TV + digital rights which increased to Rs 4201.20 crore in the next bid. Subsequently, there were three bids of Rs 4244 crore, Rs 4303 crore and Rs 4328.25 crore respectively. The day ended with a bid of Rs 4442 crore.

The e-auction will resume tomorrow at 11 am with Rs 4442 crore as the starting bid. This amount though higher than the Rs 3851 crore paid by Star for the previous six-year cycle is not much of an increase considering the fact that the base price itself is Rs 4134 crore.

The process will continue until two parties decide to stop. Each participant has one hour to raise the bid by a minimum amount of Rs 25 crore. The identity of the bidder is not revealed.

The BCCI rights are critical for both Star and Sony. For Jio, it will be a strategic weapon to bolster its digital content offering. If Star retains the rights it will be business as usual. It will three of the biggest cricket properties in IPL, BCCI, and ICC.

However, if Sony manages to upset Star and Jio it will become the defacto home of bi-lateral cricket having snatched the England and Australia cricket rights from Star. Through the Ten Sports acquisition, it also has the rights to South Africa, West Indies, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and Zimbabwe. In this scenario, Star will be left with IPL, ICC, Bangladesh and New Zealand Cricket rights.

Jio though could play the spoilsport for the two broadcasters. Viacom18, in which Ambani’s TV18 holds 51% stake, has been increasing its engagement with sports content particularly through MTV. Recently, Rishtey Cineplex had broadcast the Nidahas Trophy 2018 in Hindi by partnering Discovery’s DSport.

MTV has acquired rights to several youth-oriented sports properties like Super Fight League, U Cypher, and Indian Poker League.

Jio’s over the top (OTT) service JioTV has also been directly acquiring sports rights. Some of the properties it acquired recently include Nidahas Trophy, Carabao Cup, and 2018 Winter Olympics.

Having a presence in most critical verticals of the media and entertainment business, sports broadcasting remains the big missing piece in Ambani’s M&E empire.

The e-auction is being done for three categories – the global television rights and rest of the world digital rights (GTVRD), digital rights for the Indian subcontinent (ID), and the Global Consolidated Rights.

The media rights will be awarded for a five year period from 1 April 2018 till 31 March 2023.

The ITT has three packages including global TV rights plus rest of the world digital rights package, Indian sub-continent digital rights package and global consolidated rights package.

For the 2018-19 season, the base price for the consolidated global rights is Rs 43 crore per match including Rs 35 crore for global TV/RoW digital rights and Rs 8 crore for the Indian sub-continent digital rights.

For the next four years, the base price is Rs 40 crore for consolidated global rights with Rs 33 crore for global TV/RoW digital rights, and Rs 7 crore for the Indian sub-continent rights.

India is expected to play 102 games including 22 Tests, 42 ODIs and 38 Twenty20 Internationals at home in the five-year cycle. The year wise split for the 102 games is 21 games in 2018-19, 23 in 2019-20, 14 in 2020-21, 23 in 2021-22 and 21 in 2022-23.

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