IPL media rights bidding war spills over to Monday

Tata IPL
Tata Group is the title sponsor of IPL. File photo: IANS

Mumbai/New Delhi: The bidding war for media rights to the Indian Premier League (IPL) will continue on Monday with Disney, Sony and India's Reliance in contention for what could fetch the Indian cricket board up to $6 billion.

The bidding began at 0530 GMT on Sunday for the broadcast rights, digital rights, a bespoke package that includes rights for high-value matches as well as rights to broadcast the world's richest T20 league in foreign territories.

"We are very happy that things are going the way they were planned," treasurer of the Indian cricket board (BCCI) Arun Singh Dhumal told Reuters.

"The participants are very enthusiastic. The bidding is still on and we are hoping for a good number tomorrow.

"This is the first time we went for an e-bidding to ensure a fair and transparent process."

The IPL, counting top Indian industrialists and Bollywood stars such as Shah Rukh Khan among its franchise owners, is often seen as a surefire ticket to high TV ratings and growth in India's booming online streaming space.

But while the digital and television rights for 2023 to 2027 are expected to more than double the 163.48 billion rupees ($2.09 billion) that Star India, now owned by Walt Disney Co, paid in 2017, observers say caution may be setting in.

"There is also a global shift toward saner valuations, where investor expectations have shifted from ‘growth-at-any-cost’ to ‘growth-with-profitability’," said Mihir Shah, vice president of consultants Media Partners Asia.

Gujarat Titans, owned by European buyout firm CVC, won the 15th edition of the league, beating Rajasthan Royals in the May 29 final in front of more than 100,000 fans in Ahmedabad.

The glitzy T20 league attracts the world's best cricketers for two months of fast-paced matches played to packed stadiums with cheerleaders and live music.

Amazon.com Inc pulled out of the bidding process on Friday, saying it did not think it was viable growth option for the company in India.

Reliance Industries Ltd is bidding through its broadcasting joint venture, Viacom 18. Sony Corp's India unit and local broadcaster Zee Entertainment are in merger talks but are bidding separately.

Last time, Star India won a consolidated bid that gave it broadcasting rights on both television and digital platforms.

"At renewal value of $5 to $6 billion or more, the rights would require the winner to attain significant scale in the $20 billion competitive streaming and TV industry," Shah said.

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