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Pulwama terror attack: ICC stands to lose $500 million if India boycotts World Cup

If India decides to walk out of the upcoming ICC World Cup in protest against Pulwama terror attack, it's not BCCI or Star India, but ICC which stands to lose big bucks in rights revenue.

twitter-logo Ajita Shashidhar        Last Updated: February 23, 2019  | 17:49 IST
Pulwama terror attack: ICC stands to lose $500 million if India boycotts World Cup
India boycotting ICC World Cup over the Pulwama terror attack is likely to cut down viewership for the tournament by a great margin. Photo credit: Reuters

The Board of Cricket Control of India (BCCI) has written to the ICC requesting the latter to to ask its members to "severe ties with countries from which terror emanates". Though the letter doesn't point fingers at any particular country, the BCCI obviously wants Pakistan to be boycotted from the World Cup. If the ICC rejects India's request, the only option for India would be to voluntarily walk out of the ICC World Cup scheduled to happen in May this year, but walking out of the tournament would mean a huge financial penalty for BCCI. The only way India can avoid this penalty is if the Government of India directs the BCCI not to participate in the ICC World Cup, points out a senior sports expert.

Whether India will boycott the match against Pakistan or altogether boycott World Cup, the CoA has said that it will take a call closer to the day of the tournament. What if BCCI walks out of the ICC World Cup? The biggest loser on the face of it would be broadcaster, Star India, which has the broadcast rights for the ICC tournaments till 2023 and has shelled out close to $1.8 billion. Though Star is busy selling IPL inventory, a senior media planner says that the broadcaster has already signed a few sizeable deals with advertisers for the ICC World Cup.

However, this senior sport expert claims that the loser will be the ICC, and not Star. Almost three-fourth of the viewership for ICC World Cup comes from India and if India walks out the broadcaster has the right to say that if India doesn't play it will not pay the kind of fee it has promised to pay the ICC at least for this World Cup, he explains.

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"Star has paid close to $1.8 billion for the rights and there is typically a 40:60 split of the rights money for two cycles (each cycle includes a T20 World Cup, Champions Trophy  and World Cup). If Star pays 40 per cent for the first cycle, it adds up to $720 million and if 80 per cent of that is ascribed to the World Cup, it means ICC will lose revenue of around half a billion. It can't afford it," the expert said.

The ICC shares the broadcast revenue with all the participating teams and if Star back out, the team will also lose close to $50 million. "In fact, I see ICC pushing Pakistan to the wall as it will be too much revenue loss for it if India and Star walk out," he further explains.

Coming to the point if Star will lose viewership if it pulls out of the World Cup, media planners say that the World Cup will hardly impact Star, as its most lucrative bet is actually IPL. "Everyone who wants IPL will in any case subscribe to Star Sports. It's subscription revenue will not get hit," says a senior media planner.

A large chunk of the World Cup inventory selling will happen in the next fiscal, post the IPL, he says.

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