BCCI invites bids for IPL broadcast rights from 2018

Currently, the IPL’s media rights are held by Sony Pictures Networks India (SPNI), a deal that comes to an end after the event’s next edition

The Supreme Court-appointed justice R.M. Lodha commission had advocated transparency in the BCCI’s business deals. Photo: Reuters
The Supreme Court-appointed justice R.M. Lodha commission had advocated transparency in the BCCI’s business deals. Photo: Reuters

New Delhi: The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Sunday announced an open tender process to award media rights for Indian Premier League (IPL) matches for 2018 and beyond.

For the Indian sub-continent, the board will award the television rights for 10 years and digital media rights for five years. The competitive bidding process will close on 25 October.

Currently, IPL’s TV broadcast rights are held by Sony Pictures Networks Pvt. Ltd, which will expire in 2017 with IPL’s 10th edition. The Internet and mobile rights, however, were awarded to Novi Digital Entertainment Pvt. Ltd, a unit of Star India, for a period of three years to 2017.

“We want the next tender process to be very transparent,” Anurag Thakur, president of BCCI, said at a press conference in Delhi.

Only non-news television broadcasters will be considered eligible for TV broadcasting rights, while all broadcasters, Internet operators and mobile phone service providers can bid for digital rights.

The global television and digital media rights, except the Indian sub-continent, have been clubbed together and will be available for a period of five years. “The rest of world is grouped into different territories—for each of them, television and digital rights are clubbed together,” said Rahul Johri, chief executive of BCCI.

Johri further said the highest bidder may not necessarily get the rights. “There is no obligation on BCCI to accept the highest bid,” he said, adding the final decision will be taken by BCCI’s financial advisers after evaluating the value of every participant’s bid.

This move comes after Sony Pictures, which has the right of first refusal according to its contract with BCCI, made an offer to the board for the broadcasting rights of IPL, according to a 9 September report in The Economic Times. The report further said Sony Pictures is planning to approach the courts if BCCI decides to start the bidding process instead of renewing the contract with Sony.

In 2009, Sony had paid $1.63 billion for the cricket tournament’s television broadcasting rights for a period of nine years.

“Anyone who wants to participate has to come and participate. This process is more detailed and transparent, and Sony has been asked to participate in the process. This is our offer to them,” said Thakur.

Rohit Gupta, president, network sales and international business at Sony Pictures, declined to comment.

Earlier in September, Sony bought the sports network TEN Sports from Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL) in an all-cash deal worth $385 million. This acquisition gave Sony access to matches hosted by the cricket boards of South Africa, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, West Indies and Zimbabwe.

Sony generated Rs1,200 crore in advertising revenue in the recently concluded ninth season of IPL in May, according to a PTI report on 5 June. The broadcaster had registered sales of Rs800 crore during the eighth season of IPL in 2015.

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