Television

ESPN Star wins ICC global telecast rights

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MUMBAI: In what was virtually a come-from-behind victory, ESPN Star Sports has walked away with the audio-visual rights for International Cricket Council (ICC) conducted events for the next eight years from late 2007 to 2015.

A statement issued by the ICC announcing the winner said, "The decision was a unanimous one, taken by the ICC Board in Dubai on Saturday, and the ICC will now seek to reach final agreement with ESPN STAR Sports."

The ICC statement was silent on what the "final figure on the agreement" was, other than to say that it was "significantly in excess of the ICC’s previous commercial deal The previous agreement with the Global Cricket Corporation (GCC), included sponsorship rights as well as the audio-visual component and was worth $550 million for the years 2000 to 2007.

ESS, which had only made a territory bid covering the Indian Subcontinent and the Middle East in the first round, upped the ante in the second and final round of tenders on Thursday, putting in a global bid and beating out Harish Thawani's Nimbus, as well as separate tenders made by Zee and its recent acquisition Ten Sports. Ten Sports' bid was made in partnership with sports marketing agency Infront.

As far as how the bids stacked up in the end, ESS' winning punt was $ 1.1 billion, well ahead of Nimbus bid of $ 900 million, sources in Dubai close to the developments have told Indiantelevision.com. As for Zee and Ten Sports, their bids were in the region of $ 850 million and $ 825 million respectively.

A point of note is that other than Nimbus, all the bidders had upped their tender values in the second round. ESS, as already mentioned, hadn't even put in a global bid in the earlier round. Zee's earlier bid was reportedly $ 620 million, while in the case of Ten Sports-Infront, it was said to be $ 750 million.

Included in the eight-year period of the ICC rights ESS has acquired are 18 ICC tournaments with two World Cups, in Asia (2011) and Australasia (2015), and a minimum of three Champions Trophy tournaments.

Also included are the first two Twenty20 World Championships, in South Africa (2007) and England (2009), the latter taking place in the ICC's centenary year.

Then there are Cricket World Cup qualifiers, four ICC U/19 Cricket World Cups, and, for the first time, the Women's Cricket World Cup, with two tournaments scheduled for 2009 (Australia) and 2013 (India) in the eight-year timeframe.

ESS managing director Jamie Davis said,“This acquisition affirms our commitment to the Indian subcontinent and the world and we are absolutely delighted to bring the exciting lineup of ICC Events to millions of cricket fans globally.”

IS Bindra, the former Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president and India’s representative at the meeting, said: “This deal is good for the game and it shows cricket is growing.”
One aspect that comes out of all this is that Sony Entertainment Television India, the incumbent ICC rights holder for the Indian subcontinent, has closed the chapter on its sports telecast ambitions, at least for the foreseeable future.

As for ESPN Star, it has now reasserted its dominance of the sports broadcast arena, particularly in India in what has become a three sports network market - ESS, Zee Sports-Ten Sports and Nimbus' Neo Sports.

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