Mint Explainer: BCCI and media rights - an affair since 1992

The jump in the valuation of media rights for cricket in India took flight only after the birth of IPL. (File Photo: AP)
The jump in the valuation of media rights for cricket in India took flight only after the birth of IPL. (File Photo: AP)

Summary

  • Sale of media rights sales has become a telling indicator of cricket's soaring prominence in the Indian media landscape

New Delhi: In India's rapidly digitizing landscape, media companies have been zealously trying to boost their viewership numbers, and broadcasting rights for sporting events, most notably cricket, has become the proverbial golden ticket.

Star Sports Network, the official television broadcaster of the Indian Premiere League (IPL), recently touted an eye-popping audience of 505 million viewers for its live T20 matches. Jio Cinema, the league's streaming partner, claimed a staggering 449 million viewers on their OTT platform for IPL coverage.

The term "Sale of Media Rights" might not be novel, but it's undoubtedly become a financial windfall. It all started way back in 1992, when the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) made its inaugural media rights sale for South Africa's tour of India, oblivious at the time of the goldmine they sat upon. The deal was a modest $120,000 for a three-match series. Fast-forward thirty years, and each BCCI game, IPL included, has a media value exceeding 100 crore.

But this jump in the valuation of media rights for the game in India took flight only after the birth of IPL – twenty-over cricket matches (T20) played by the best in the business for privately owned teams, all set against the backdrop of Bollywood spice. In the debut season of 2008, Sony Pictures Network won the IPL broadcasting rights for a period of 10 years (2008-2017) with a bid of 8,200 crore. This value has now increased by up to six times over 14 years, in their latest sale.

Let's delve deeper into BCCI's latest media rights sales, a telling indicator of cricket's soaring prominence in the Indian media landscape.

IPL - who wouldn’t want a piece of that, in a cricket-frenzied country like India?

Given the staggering viewer numbers, revenue from advertisers has also been attractive, as per a report by the market research and analysis firm Redseer Strategy Consultants, IPL's linear TV and digital broadcasting right holders, respectively Star Sports and Jio Cinema, earned a staggering 4,700 crore through advertising. They weren’t the only gainers from the advertising, the BCCI and the franchise owners in the league bagged 430 crore and 1,450 crore, respectively, taking the total earned from advertising to 10,120 crore and that’s just for the 2023 season alone.

Last year, BCCI announced that it had sold media rights for IPL for a whopping 48,390 crore for a five-year period, making it second most valued sporting league in the world. Disney Star retained their Indian sub-continent TV rights for 23,575 crore ( 57.5 crore/game), while the most sought-after India digital rights deal was acquired for 20,500 crore by the Reliance-backed Viacom18, which also won the non-exclusive package C, paying another 2,991 crore.

The deal for packages A and B is for 410 matches over five years with 74 matches each in 2023 and 2024 and 84 each in 2025 and 2026. Package D with a base price of 3 crore per game with overseas TV and Digital Rights on offer was sold for 1,324 crore to Viacom18 and Times Internet.

IPL teams also get a share of these media rights as well as sponsorship money, along with approximately 10 to 15% of ticket sales. These franchises are also looking to raise money by listing on the bourses or through private equity, meaning the prices for top players are likely to soar higher with the infusion of this money.

Women Premier League (WPL) - Another golden egg-laying goose?

Earlier this year, BCCI launched the women’s IPL, the WPL, the media rights for which were sold for 951 crore. Viacom18 secured the rights for the league for five years (2023-2027) paying 7. 09 crore per match. The winning bid was for both linear TV and digital and was sold globally, including in India.

On top of that, BCCI fetched 4669.99 crore from the sale of five teams that were to participate in the inaugural season of the women’s league. The league garnered a cumulative reach of 50.78 million (2+ years All India) in its opening week for eight games, as per the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India data. The OTT platform claimed that the first season of WPL on JioCinema delivered the highest viewership on any woman’s events globally.

Bilateral cricket – Do you even bleed blue?

Given the dire situation of media organisations, other than Reliance’s Viacom18, in the race to bid for the rights, the bidding was likely to be less aggressive this time around. The board, for the first time, also kept the reserve price at 25% lower than the average per-match price from the last cycle ( 60 crore per match).

And last week, Viacom 18 bagged the TV and digital rights for the Indian cricket team's home matches for five years. The OTT platform won the media rights for all BCCI India matches for a total of 5,963 crore. It will pay 3,101 crore for digital rights which is 35.23 per match and for TV, it will pay 2,862 or 32.52 crore per match.

In this, extras are also beneficial

Beyond all this, BCCI has also signed a five-year deal with sportswear giant Adidas. Although the financial contours of the deal were not disclosed, a senior BCCI official told Mint that the deal value is around 350 crore. 

Also, the IPL and WPL title sponsor rights were sold to the Tata Group.

BCCI will be investing most of its earnings from these media rights to bolster domestic cricket and continue supporting the development of players at the grassroots level.

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