Sony Pictures Network India (SPNI), the official broadcast rights holder of the lucrative Indian Premier League (IPL), is learnt to have been given a 60-day window by the BCCI to submit a new offer for retaining the rights for an unspecified number of years.
This development took place early this week after NP Singh, the SPNI CEO, met Ajay Shirke, BCCI secretary, and Rahul Johri, the newly-appointed CEO of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), in Mumbai. TOI had reported first about the lock-and-key contract that SPNI enjoys with the Indian cricket board where they not only have the first right of refusal over the IPL deal – when it comes up for renewal – but also have the first right to hear out a counter offer and match it.
This clause, in fact, is what the BCCI should be most worried about going forward as it looks to fetch a 100% hike or more in the IPL broadcast deal next year.
The clause was inserted in the BCCI-IPL contract in 2009 when SPNI (Multi Screen Media back then) took the cricket board to the Bombay high court after then IPL commissioner Lalit Modi had terminated the original IPL rights deal with MSM. The two parties, with the World Sports Group (WSG) in the backdrop, had eked out an out-of-court settlement then.
In the ensuing years, Star India – which holds the rights for Indian cricket in the subcontinent until 2018 and pays BCCI close to INR 43 crore per match – emerged as the biggest broadcast player in the market in 2013.
If BCCI, thanks to its obligation to SPNI, does not bring out a tender for the IPL deal renewal, the question that needs to be answered is whether Star will agree to broadcast Indian cricket going further. “Even if they decide to, the question is will they pay the same value (at INR 43 crore per match) which the BCCI is getting in the present deal,” a source in the know of developments, told TOI.
Since, IPL has been the real cash-cow for all stakeholders involved, for all their investments in Indian cricket, it was the IPL rights that Star had always been waiting for. “Star invested heavily in all BCCI deals these last three years and waited patiently for the IPL rights to come up for renewal. But now, if they aren’t given a fair opportunity to bid for the IPL rights, why should they continue paying the same fees to the BCCI. They might as well invest that money in the international cricket window,” a market expert in the know of things said.
It is for this reason perhaps that the BCCI is already thinking of scaling down the number of years for the next IPL deal from 10 to five. In fact, sources say the BCCI may even opt to give SPNI just the broadcast rights of IPL and give Star India the digital rights to the multi-million dollar tournament, just to appease both parties.
WE HAVE MET BCCI: SPNI
Sony Pictures Networks India (SPNI), the current broadcast rights holders of the IPL, are gearing up for a renewed association with the Indian cricket board with regards to the multi-million dollar tournament. SPNI’s existing 10-year contract with IPL will expire after the 2017 edition.
Confirming their intent to go ahead with a renegotiated deal, a SPNI spokesperson told TOI: “After making all seasons of IPL a success, we have met the BCCI to express our interest in continuing this association beyond season 10.”