Race to acquire IPL rights commences

MUMBAI: It's the business of sports! The countdown to the media rights of what is arguably India’s most premium sports property, the Vivo IPL, has begun with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announcing the timeline of the bidding process. The BCCI has made the IPL rights an invitation tender process with the document being made available for purchase from today (19 September) at a purchase price of $10,000.

Three bunches of media rights are being made available: domestic Indian subcontinent TV rights for all the 10 seasons (2018-2027), domestic digital telecast rights, and the rest of the world (RoW) rights -- either as a whole package or as territory groupings – each for five seasons (2018-2022). Bidders have also been permitted to make their offers in any combination of the above three rights. The digital rights entail a five-minute delayed telecast.

Non-news TV broadcasters will be in a position to bid for the TV rights. However, the field has been thrown open to broadcasters, mobile operators and internet operators for both the digital and RoW rights, with marketing agencies also being permitted to throw in the hat into the ring for the latter.

The bids can be made singly or as a consortium, as long as the person doing is fit and proper, meets financial standing and BCCI suitability standards criteria, and has no litigation with the cricket body, the BCCI announced.

At the press conference in Delhi, BCCI president Anurag Thakur said:
“IPL is the fastest, most popular cricket league and also the sixth most popular sports league in the world. We want it to be a very transparent process. It is going to be bid- but a most historic. In the last nine years, what we have seen is that the world has recognized it has the top most league. BCCI has been proud to start the league which others have followed.”

BCCI CEO Rahul Johri who made a presentation on the tender process said that it will be two tiered, based on eligibility and on the financial commitment. Bidders will have to make their submissions in two envelopes: Envelope A which will detail the eligibility and envelope B which will contain the financial bid and signed media rights agreement. Financial Bids of only compliant bids will be opened, Johri clarified. He added that the organization was under no obligation to accept the highest financial bid and that it could change the process at any time at its discretion.

Johri pointed out that potential bidders will have an opportunity to seek clarifications till 4 October, with 18 October being the last date for purchasing the tender, and bid submissions will close at 9:30 am on 25 October. Financial bids of only compliant bids will be opened, Johri clarified. The BCCI is expected to announce the winners of the rights the same day.

For the RoW, the BCCI has broken up the rights into territory groups, almost like the league it runs. Group A broadly consists of Asia, Australia, Canada, Caribbean, Central and south America, New Zealand, and Israel. Group B consists of middle east and north Africa while Group C covers the whole of South Africa. Group D includes sub-Saharan Africa, Group E covers the UK and Ireland and British territories and Group F, the whole of the US.

Media observers expect a tough fight between current TV rights holder Sony Pictures Network (SPN) India – which recently acquired the Zee Network’s TEN Sports brand – and digital rights holder Star India for the rights.

Other bidders who could be contenders include telcos like Reliance Jio and Airtel. The next 10 years rights of the IPL are expected to bring in anywhere between $2.5 billion to $3.5 billion for the BCCI.

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