NEW DELHI: Star India chairman and CEO Uday Shankar today said that the winning bid figure for IPL media rights of approximately $ 2.55 billion (Rs. 163475 million) was the "right" amount for a property as exciting as the Indian Premier League and justified the acquisition by asserting the competitiveness in bidding in various categories proved it.
"We are delighted to bring IPL to the rightful home of cricket in India and elsewhere," Shankar said at a post-bid press conference in Mumbai, adding that the eco-system of IPL and sports broadcasting has changed over the last 10 years, which reflected in the figures bid by players anxious to corner a slice of the cricket pie.
"We believe that the IPL is a powerful property and lots of value can be created in the digital (world) and on TV for fans," Shankar said explaining why Star bid both, for the digital and TV rights of the premier cricket property that was with Sony for the last 10 years.
Shankar drove home the point that, as Star had a strong presence in TV and was also the owner of a robust digital platform (Hotstar), it made sense for the company to get complete rights of IPL.
However, Shankar made no bones of the fact that the company would have to think hard on the strategies to monetise the IPL as pay TV revenues were "highly regulated" in India, courtesy sector regulator TRAI's new proposed tariff regime.
For the record, Star India had challenged the tariff regime proposed by the TRAI in Madras High Court and a final directive form the court is still pending.
Pointing out that Star would "continue to work within the law" in an effort to get better return on investment, especially now that it has invested heavily in IPL too, Shankar jocularly added, "We'd have to figure out something or we have a problem."
Shankar was also of the opinion that the Indian consumer had surprised critics and skeptics alike by taking to digital quite well. "As a country, we were told India was not broadband-ready (but) in less than two years India has emerged as one of the exciting markets (for digital players)," he said, adding that a better broadband infrastructure and cheaper data prices would further boost the market for online video consumption in India.
The Indian cricket board, owners of the IPL brand and property, however, skirted questions on Star's impending monopoly over the broadcast business now that it has also acquired the rights for IPL. Dish TV had written to BCCI and the government warning that if Star won the IPL rights too, it would be in a monopolistic situation to dictate terms to distributors of TV content as Star already had rights of most major cricket properties around the world.
Meanwhile, the man credited with conceiving IPL, Lalit Kumar Modi, now living in exile in the UK, tweeted, "So, Star Sports wins the global rights for IPL. I would've hoped for a larger figure. Deserved greater value after 10 years of success."