Mumbai: The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Monday scrapped the contract with its broadcast rights holder Nimbus Communications Ltd for defaulting on payments and forfeited a bank guarantee amount of Rs 2,000 crore.
The decision to terminate the contract with Nimbus three years before its expiry was taken at BCCI’s working committee meeting where members moved to scrap the telecast deal for the Indian team’s matches played at home.
“Members were unanimous that such an organization which has been a regular defaulter in terms of payments cannot be continued with,” one of the members of the working committee said on condition of anonymity.
Nimbus, which had signed a four-year deal with BCCI in October 2009 for Rs 2,000 crore, paid Rs 24 crore on Monday ahead of the working committee meeting. That left an outstanding amount of Rs 88 crore.
“Not a single series has gone where they have paid the full amount on time. Also another reason is that India’s international commitments at home have finished with the ODI (one-day international) series against the West Indies,” the official said.
Since there was a big gap before the next home series gets under way, the BCCI top brass felt that there was enough time to find a new broadcaster.
The termination of the Nimbus deal means that the rest of the domestic season will not be televised.
It was also learnt that working committee members were unhappy about World Series Hockey (WSH) being promoted in the air time scheduled for cricket.
“They were bringing hockey players during the breaks of the cricket matches and forcing commentators Sanjay Manjrekar and Courtney Walsh to ask questions” of the hockey players, the official said. “The break-time show was supposed to be solely dedicated to cricket.”
Harish Thawani-controlled Nimbus Communications, the promoter of Neo Sports Broadcast, did not respond to phone calls or emails.
Yannick Colaco, Nimbus Sports chief operating officer (COO), did not reply to text messages, emails or phone calls.
Prasanna Krishnan, COO, Neo Sports Broadcast (TV operations), was unavailable for comment.
Multi Screen Media Pvt. Ltd (MSM) president Rohit Gupta said the issue was an internal matter between two parties and he was not aware of what could have led to the scrapping of the deal.
When asked if MSM was interested in pitching for the same deal, he said it was premature to comment.
Shailendra Singh, joint managing director of Percept Ltd, said India is a single-sport nation and that cricket dominated the market.
“But the question is of pricing. Broadcasters have a tendency to go overboard in bullish times. They buy cricket at astronomical rates and market it lavishly,” he said. “They promise more than they can deliver in payments and this fallout is a result of that.
He also urged the BCCI to review the situation as cricket properties are not delivering the way they used to since India’s World Cup success.
“Also, the BCCI on its part does no promotion and marketing of these properties at all,” he said. “Broadcasters like Nimbus have to undertake that on their own. Plus broadcasters cannot monetize cricket deals the way they could earlier—because the ratings are not coming in. It’s a full year of cricket and interest is waning,”
Anushree Chandran of Mint in Mumbai contributed to this story.