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India soccer telecast rights bidding in Rs 3-5 billion range

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MUMBAI: Despite having a sizable following in India, football does not excite broadcasters and marketers as much as cricket does.

Still, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) is attempting to hawk the telecast rights to suitors on the lines of its cricket counterpart.

The last date for submitting bids, 8 June, saw five companies make a grab for a 10 year deal for domestic football.

Companies like Zee Sports and Nimbus, according to AIFF sources, have quoted between Rs 3 - Rs 5 billion for the telecast and marketing rights.

What's more, AIFF president Priyaranjan Das Munshi has also hinted that the organisation is not averse to making Indian soccer viewer and TV friendly, on the lines of what ESPN Star Sports, Indian Hockey Federation and Leisure Sports Management have done with domestic hockey.

The sources said that while Nimbus has put in a bid of Rs 5.04 million (inclusive of production cost), Zee Sports has put in a price of Rs 3.74 billion.

ESS and NDTV have submitted proposal that are slightly more complex and envisage revenue sharing and development of the game along with the Football Federation.

Interestingly, the last date for submitting bids for football, which was 8 June, saw NDTV promoter Prannoy Roy himself present at the venue in Delhi. This is also indicative of the importance that NDTV is attaching to sports broadcasting and the fact that its toying with the idea of having a sports channel in its stable.

AIFF sources said a final decision would be announced later after the bids have been evaluated by a committee comprising AIFF president Priyaranjan DAs Munshi, senior vice-president Praful Patel and treasurer Sivanand V Salgaocar.

The new season starts from October till when pubcaster Doordarshan has the telecast rights.

According to a DD statement, issued some time back, the pubcaster will pay a graded rights fee of RS 1 million, Rs 600,000 and Rs 400,000 for `A', `B' and 'C' category matches, respectively.

Some of the bidders, who have been earlier involved in legal wrangling over cricket rights, hope that the soccer rights would not go the cricket way.

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