BCCI reinvites bids for mobile, Internet rights

BCCI reinvites bids for mobile, Internet rights

Mumbai: The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Thursday reinvited bids for the Internet and mobile rights for all international and domestic matches to be played between 2011 and 2014 at a lower base price, after failing to attract bidders in the first round.

It reduced the base price for a match to 2 crore from 3 crore earlier, according to a senior BCCI official who did not want to be named.

The apex cricket body received only one bid in response to its earlier tender that was floated on 18 August, and even that was far lower than the reserve price. Mint could not verify the identity of the bidder.

Internet rights allow streaming of matches and video on demand with a five-minute delay in India. Live streaming is permitted outside India.

BCCI is selling the tender documents for a non-refundable sum of 2 lakh each. The last date for submitting bids is 26 September. This is the first time BCCI is selling mobile and Internet rights to domestic and international matches as a stand-alone property.

The rights were previously held by Nimbus Communications Ltd as part of the global media rights it won in 2006 for $612 million for a period of four years.

“No doubt there is value in these Internet and mobile rights. But when it comes to broadband access as well as quality of download on mobiles, we still have a long way to go," said a senior executive with a sports broadcasting company on condition of anonymity. “Any agency looking to buy these rights will struggle to monetize them. So while there may be a definitive interest, a number of agencies may have found the base price of 3 crore too high," he said.

Other experts attribute the lack of interest to the recent dismal performance of the Indian cricket team against England, after having won the World Cup.

“The one thing that is fresh in everyone’s mind is that the (Indian cricket) team got walloped. Going forward, the Champions League is also expected to be a disaster without key players such as Sachin Tendulkar and Gautam Gambhir," said Indranil Das Blah, chief operating officer, Kwan Entertainment and Marketing Solutions Pvt. Ltd, a Mumbai-based sports marketing agency. “No doubt that the popularity of the game and interest in everything affiliated to it will take a beating."

A slowing global economy has also made bidders conservative, Blah said. He expects the revised base price to make the rights worthwhile. “Cricket is a long-term play and over a three-year horizon to pay 2 crore per match is not bad at all. Don’t forget that just a few months ago India was on a high with the World Cup win."

This year, Internet, mobile and radio rights, along with television rights for certain territories, for the Indian Premier League was awarded to Times Internet Ltd for 261.6 crore for a four-year period.

The latest edition of the Twenty20 tournament earlier this year registered more than 20 million views in its first two weeks.

Bidders for the international and domestic matches will find value in the rights despite the high reserve price, said Rishi Khiani, chief executive of Times Internet.

“I am sure it is monetizable, especially for a company which can work with partners in other markets," he said.

While companies could “see value in sub-licensing the rights internationally, or splicing it in a way to include mobile service providers or just seeing it as a loss-leader that drives audiences, it’s clear there’s value in mobile and Internet rights," Khiani said, pointing to his company’s experience with the Indian Premier League.