EXPLAINED | IPL’s mega media rights auction – what’s next?

Express press service

CHENNAI: Another bumper payday awaits the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) as the Indian Premier League (IPL) media rights go up for auction on Sunday. A little explanation…

What is the IPL Media Auction?

In rudimentary terms, it is essentially about which company will have the rights to broadcast the IPL on multiple platforms (TV and online). The rights to the last cycle belonged to Star India. The next cycle (2023-27) is now upon us. Industry sources suggest that the next round could go well beyond Rs 50,000 crore (the last round was worth just south of Rs 16,350 crore).

Which companies are in the running?

Reports suggest Amazon has given up. Thus, the main remaining players are Disney-Star, Sony-Zee and Viacom18. What adds a layer of intrigue is that Sony-Zee and Viacom are getting another cash injection. So the two could be flexing their muscles a bit to add one of the most premium products in the Indian sports ecosystem today.


There is a merger between Sony and Zee which should give them enough capital to rock this. Viacom18 is also going to be big on cash with a bunch of investors pouring in the money (one of them is Uday Shankar who rewrote the cricket broadcast during his time at Star). This is also why the incumbent is believed to face a fight. Also to be seen is how BCCI plans to handle any potential conflict of interest should Viacom win one of the bids. He has a clear connection to Reliance which owns one of the franchises.

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OK, how will this work?

This will be a unique online auction in Indian cricket. Thus, additional bids can be placed and bidders have the option to withdraw at any point in the process. The process will continue until there is a winner in all categories. As the BCCI has decided to operate without delay, this could very well spill over to Monday.

Wait, all categories? What does that mean?

Unlike 2017, when Star won through a consolidated auction, even though Facebook likes bid the highest amount in the digital category, BCCI split the categories this time around. In all, there are four categories. TV rights for the Indian subcontinent (Category A, base price of Rs 49 crore per game), digital rights (Category B, base price of Rs 33 crore per game), a non-exclusive package open only to OTTs (Category C, base price of Rs 16 crore per game broadcasting 18-20 games per season) and rest of the world (category D, base price of Rs 3 crore per game).

Can you break this down further?

We may well have a scenario where rivals have the same product on different platforms. For example, Star India may have the rights to broadcast the games on TV, but Viacom (via Voot) or Sony-Zee (probably via SonyLIV) may own the broadcast rights on an OTT platform. In the 2017-22 cycle, Star India owned the product due to its consolidated offering.

How did industry sources arrive at the figure of Rs 50,000 crore?

Simple, really. Cricket still sells in India. Even if there were reports of low viewership earlier this season, that wouldn’t deter companies from advertising. The matches have increased and it is likely that the matches will increase again in the next five years (if the BCCI adopts a home-away format, the matches played by each team will increase from 14 to 18, for example). Potentially, more cricket, it is believed, will mean more money.

Could this be a world record?

For cricket, yes. People tend to compare the global market leader, the English Premier League, but it’s far ahead thanks to the money it commands overseas broadcast rights.

Maria R. Newman