India rights bids submitted, nine in the fray

MUMBAI: Fear is the key? Fear of losing out on a piece of the India cricket telecast pie could well decide just how high the bids go above the already whopping $ 425 million composite floor price, when the BCCI opens sealed tender documents tomorrow morning. $ 550, 650, 700 million...?!

Just what the final quote will be no one is willing to lay any bets on. About the only common ground on this is that whoever takes home the booty will likely have to "break the bank" while going about it.

The bids were submitted this afternoon at a suburban hotel in Mumbai and at the end of the process presided over by BCCI vice-president and marketing panel chairman Lalit Modi, there were nine bidders in the fray.

Those who have submitted bids include: ESPN Software Ltd, SET Satellite Singapore Pte, Zee Telefilms, Reliance Infocomm, Ad Labs LTD (Reliance's FM arm), Nimbus Sports International Pte LTD, Nimbus Communications LTD, British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB) LTD and Echostar Satellite Ltd.

A significant absentee was Dubai-based Taj Television LTD (parent company of Ten Sports). News Corp controlled US DTH operator DirecTV, which had earlier been expected to make an offer, also stayed out of it.

The tenders will be opened in the presence of BCCI officials and all the prospective bidders tomorrow and after looking at the highest composite bid, the winning bid will be announced. At today's meeting, Modi also announced that the contract signing for the winning bid would be done on 21 February after it has been ratified by the full working committee of the BCCI.

Looking at the list of those who have bid, the likelihood of the separate bids tallying up to a higher figure than the composite bid looks highly unlikely. By the looks of things composite bids have been submitted by ESPN, Zee, Sony and possibly Nimbus Sport. BSkyB would be expected to have bid for DTH rights in the UK while Echostar would likely have placed its offer for the US territory. Information available with indicates that Reliance Infocomm has bid for broadband rights while sister concern Adlabs has bid for FM rights.

Of course just who has bid for what will be definitely known when the tenders are opened.

A point of note is that the floor price for the composite bid was reduced from the earlier announced $ 450 million to $ 425 million.

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