Following the addition of two new teams and an enthralling mega auction, the stage is set for an e-auction to sell the media rights of the Indian Premier League (IPL) for the 2023-27 cycle. The highest bidder will be awarded the media rights of the cash-rich Indian T20 league by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for five years beginning from 2023.
The Invitation to Tender (ITT) for the IPL media rights is expected to be issued soon, followed by the e-auction. There was some internal debate about whether to hold an e-auction or a closed-envelope bid, as was done for the recent team auction, but the BCCI decided on an e-auction because it is much more transparent. Let’s take a look at the contenders vying for the media rights of the upcoming five years.
Sony Pictures Networks India (SPNI)
Sony Pictures Networks India (SPNI), which paid Rs 8,200 crore for the media rights for ten years (from season one to season ten), is eager to reclaim the property that they have nurtured for a decade. Sony has expanded following its merger with Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd, and they are expected to bid together for the rights. Securing the IPL property could give them a significant market advantage.
Sony brought in too many tournaments under their banner after losing the IPL in 2018. Cricket in Australia, England, and Sri Lanka along with the Pakistan Super League (PSL) all come under Sony’s umbrella.
Last year, Viacom18, a joint venture between the Reliance-backed Network18 and ViacomCBS began to take sports broadcasting seriously, primarily for IPL media rights. The conglomerate hired executives from Star Sports and Disney+Hotstar to handle sports and advertising and acquired the rights to several major global sporting events, including LaLiga, the FIFA World Cup 2022, Serie A, Ligue 1 and the Abu Dhabi T10 League.
Furthermore, Reliance’s pockets are deepening. According to reports, Mukesh Ambani’s company is in talks with foreign investors to raise upto $1.6 billion for Viacom18.
Jeff Bezos and Mukesh Ambani have expanded their rivalry beyond the e-commerce sector. Amazon is attempting to increase their user base for Prime Video. After all, the success of Star’s streaming platform Disney+Hotstar has been heavily reliant on live cricket. Amazon does not currently have a TV channel partner, and it has been speculated that it will make a joint bid with Sony.
Amazon currently owns the streaming rights of New Zealand Cricket. In this agreement, they have streamed the India women vs New Zealand women fixtures as well as the Bangladesh tour of New Zealand earlier this year. Currently, the OTT platform has been streaming the South Africa tour of New Zealand.
The richest cricket tournament’s media rights are currently held by the Disney-owned, Star. The media unit paid Rs 16,347.5 crore for the IPL’s media rights for the 2018-22 season. It has been broadcasting the tournament on its various sports channels along with its OTT platform, Disney+ Hotstar. The agreement, however, will expire after the 2022 edition.
India’s home series, domestic fixtures, ICC tournaments, Pro Kabaddi League (PKL), Indian Super League (ISL), Premier League, and several other sporting events are streamed and broadcasted by the network.
The previous time around, there were only two major players in the TV and digital media rights market, with Star India outbidding Sony, which held the rights from 2008 to 2017. Sony’s final composite bid was Rs 11,050 crore, while Star bid nearly Rs 5300 crore more. This time around, the BCCI could be earning more than INR 35,000 crore for the media rights of the marquee Indian domestic T20 league.