New Delhi: Streaming service provider YuppTv and broadcaster Discovery Communications are the latest to have bought bid documents for the coming media rights auction of the Indian Premier League (IPL) T20 cricket tournament, two people familiar with the development said.

Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd, GroupM, Times Internet Ltd, Amazon India, Facebook and Twitter had purchased the documents earlier. In September, Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) invited bids to award media rights for IPL for 2018 and beyond. However, the process was indefinitely postponed since the Supreme Court-appointed Lodha panel had not responded to BCCI’s queries regarding the tenders.

Both Discovery and YuppTv’s spokespersons confirmed the purchase of bid documents.

“IPL is the highest viewed sports property. If you’re launching into sports online you’d want to start with IPL. I’d imagine companies like Reliance, Discovery, Amazon, Star will bid aggressively," said Hiren Pandit, chief executive of TransStadia, a sports infrastructure firm.

BCCI reopened the IPL bids on 21 July. Both television and digital media rights of IPL will be up for grabs for a five-year period from 2018 to 2022. The last date for buying bid documents is 24 August. The bidding process will close on 28 August and results will be announced the same day.

In February 2015, Star India bid Rs302.2 crore to win the global Internet and mobile rights for IPL for a three-year period, beating Times Internet and Multi Screen Media Pvt. Ltd (now Sony Pictures Networks).

“When Star bought the rights, the data services were much slower compared with now. Now we have 3G and 4G being used actively. From a consumption standpoint, the alternate screen story has only gotten stronger with more eyeballs. So the rights will be sold for a big sum," Pandit said.

Both YuppTV and Discovery have shown interest in sports in the recent past.

In May, YuppTV bought exclusive digital rights for the recently concluded ICC Champions Trophy 2017 for Canada and the non-exclusive digital rights for Continental Europe. The deal gave YuppTV users in Canada and Continental Europe, excluding Germany, Switzerland and Austria, access to the tournament.

The internet subscription service provider for watching TV channels and movies, raised around $50 million to tap the Indian market from Emerald Media, an Asian platform established by investment firm KKR and Co. to invest in the media and entertainment sector, wherein Emerald Media also acquired a significant minority stake in the firm. The service has viewers in India, Pakistan, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the US, UK and West Asia. It offers a premium subscription that includes a pay-per-view option.

In February, Discovery launched a sports channel in India called DSPORT, in bid to widen its portfolio and expand its reach. The broadcaster plans to offer around 4,000 hours of live sporting content annually, and will air international sports properties ranging from horse racing to football on the channel.

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