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How to make a billion, ICC style

The International Cricket Council?s worldwide cricket telecast rights for 2007-15 will go under the hammer, reports Gurbir Singh.

india Updated: Nov 10, 2006 23:20 IST

The International Cricket Council’s (ICC’s) worldwide cricket telecast rights for 2007-15 will go under the hammer in Dubai on Friday, amid speculation that the winning bid could go past the billion-dollar mark.

The ICC rights for 2000-07 were won by a joint venture between NewsCorp-owned Global Cricket Council (GCC) and World Sport Nimbus, for a record $550 million.

The unbelievable prices of cricket properties made SET a casualty on Thursday. The Sony board decided to give the ICC bidding a miss: “Cricket has become totally unviable. Restrictions that channels cannot be priced at more than Rs 5 per subscriber per month has only made it worse,” Kunal Dasgupta, CEO, SET, told HT.

Last time’s winner Nimbus — which also made the winning $612 million bid for the 2006 BCCI rights for India — is not in the race either.

Friday’s bidding, therefore, will be a straight fight between Zee and ESPN-STAR Sports (ESS). Both broadcasters are pretty desperate: ESPN-STAR has of late telecast very little cricket featuring India; Zee’s sports channel too has not had too much international cricket on its menu. Zee had lost the 2000 race to GCC despite bidding the highest at $600 million.

Conservative cricket business pundits are putting the worth of the ICC rights between $450 million and $600 million. According to them, unlike the last round when the ICC bidding covered everything from telecast to Internet and on-ground sponsorship, this round is offering only telecast rights. However, telecast rights command the maximum value, and strong competition may push the price past a billion dollars, feel the others.

The awarding of the rights is a process spread over several weeks. The winner gets the rights to telecast two World Cups in 2011 and 2015, and two rounds of the Champions Trophy.

Email: gurbir.singh@hindustantimes.com