The Indian cricket board (BCCI) is likely to announce an open tender for the Indian Premier League’s broadcast rights that end with the 10th edition of the league in 2017.
The BCCI president, Anurag Thakur, is likely to make an announcement inviting fresh tenders for the next few years. Current rights holders Sony Pictures Network as well as Star India, who hold the rights for Indian cricket, and for the International Cricket Council (ICC) events until 2023, are the main contenders.
Here is a look at the TV rights picture ahead of the announcement:
In 2008, the Singapore-based World Sports Group bagged the IPL rights for 10 years paying $918 million.
In 2009, the contract was replaced when Sony group, through Multi Screen Media Pvt Ltd., paid $1.63 billion for nine-year broadcasting rights.
The BCCI this time is likely to give the rights for a shorter period to maximise revenue. A reference is being made to the English Premier League deal of last year. Sky and BT Sports bought the rights for three years paying a reported 5.14 billion pounds.
The BCCI could auction all the rights in a bundle or break them into a) broadcast rights b) digital rights c) broadcast and digital rights. The overseas rights can also be issued.
As per the contract with Sony, the current rights holders have the first right of refusal. However, the BCCI is going ahead with open auction in the name of transparency.
The presence of another strong player in Star India, which holds the rights for the Indian cricket, also raises BCCI expectations for getting a lucrative deal.
The new rights holders will also consider the IPL being expanded in 2018. The IPL currently has eight teams and if Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals, both serving a two-year suspension, return to the fold, and Gujarat Lions and Rising Pune Supergiants are given an extension beyond two years.
Sony Pictures said to be unhappy with BCCI’s plan for a fresh auction without giving them the chance to match the bid. This could lead to litigation, but companies filing a case against BCCI will be blacklisted by the influential body, and that could prove a deterrent.
Sony’s rights deal will end with the 10th edition of the IPL in 2017.
It remains to be seen how much companies are willing to pay for the rights. The intense rivalry between Sony and Star suggests the former has recovered the massive sum it bid, but it remains to be seen how far the bidders would go this time.
According to industry estimates and media reports, for the 2016 IPL edition, ad slots were sold to 12 sponsors at a 15-20 % premium over 2015. Sony had ad sales of around Rs 800 crore in 2015, according to industry estimates.
To tap into fresh viewership and revenue streams, the telecast has been expanded with commentary in regional languages --- Tamil, Bengali, Telugu and Hindi.
Media reports suggest Sony Pictures Network India made around Rs1,000 crore from sponsorships and advertisements in 2015, and around Rs.1,050 this year, having paid approximately Rs.820 crore per annum for 10 years.
If the licence fee shoots up significantly, it remains to be seen where the broadcasters will stop.
Star India are looking to consolidate their cricket footprint while Sony wants to expand its sports portfolio. It held rights for Euro 2016 and Copa America, and has the rights for the 2018 World Cup football. Sony, which expanded recently by launching It also has the rights to telecast the Australian Open tennis.