IPL media rights: New players in fray


The BCCI, on Tuesday, officially announced a list of 18 media and technology companies from around the world that it said had purchased the Invitation To Tender (ITT) document to bid for the multi-million dollar Indian Premier League’s next rights window.
Placed 17th and 18th in the list are social media giants Twitter Inc and Facebook Inc who were the last to pick the ITT after 16 big players from the television and digital media rights industry had done the same over the last one month.
On Wednesday, the Board is expected to send out its last set of clarifications to parties that have sought any kind of explanations, following which the bids will be opened on October 25 at the headquarters of the BCCI in Mumbai.
The BCCI has made sure that the entire process will be concluded in one single day in presence of all stakeholders and the media. The IPL has certainly come a long way since 2008, when the rights were sold to the World Sports Group (WSG) and later resold to Multi Screen Media (now Sony Pictures Network) and Board officials maintained – off the record – that there were no other takers.
Ten years later, as the IPL looks to find its way forward, the ‘Big Boys’ of the television industry – Star TV, Sony Pictures, Sky UK Ltd, BT PLC and Supersport International, among others – are back in fray to grab what’s on offer.
On offer are three different rights packages for television and digital in the following pattern: 1) Indian subcontinent television rights (2018-2027 – 10 IPL seasons); 2) Indian subcontinent digital rights (2018-2022 – five seasons); 3 Rest Of the World (ROW) media rights (2018-2022 – five IPL seasons).
Group M is the only agency that has bought the ITT as opposed to all other companies directly buying it from the BCCI and is expected to front a consortium of Chinese mobile handset companies.
Sony Pictures, the present TV rights holders of the tournament, have bought the tender document ‘without prejudice’, which means despite picking up the ITT the broadcast giants have kept open the option of going to court citing first the rights of refusal clause in their existing contract.
However, the battle for the first time has opened up from a digital point of view with some of the biggest social media giants along with the world’s leading e-commerce company Amazon picking the tender document. “This has been an industry do minated by television unlike international markets that have already warmed up to digital media. From Indian sports broadcast point of view, this is a first and will be interesting to watch how the value of digital rights vis-a-vis television works out,” an industry executive said.
TOI had reported first on the global interest that the IPL has generated ever since the Board first announced its intent in bringing out the ITT.
Reliance Jio, the latest player in the Indian telecom industry, has also picked up the ITT but may not come to the bidding table. Market sources say that “for a telecom player dishing out 4G services, it may not make sense for them to bid for rights because the desirable content will anyway be available to them in the 4G pipe”.
India heads for Facebook and Twitter refused to comment but industry experts say the two social media companies have been in constant touch with the BCCI to understand the dynamics of Indian cricket in the last few years. Times Internet, a sister concern to this newspaper, has also purchased the tender document.
18 companies that bought tender
Star India Pvt Ltd, Amazon Seller Services, Followon Interactive Media, Taj TV India, Sony Pictures Networks, Times Internet Ltd, Supersport International, Reliance Jio, Gulf DTH, Group M, begin IP Ltd, Econet Media Ltd, Sky UK Ltd, ESPN Digital Media, BTG Legal Services, BT PLC, Twitter Inc, Facebook Inc.

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