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Zee-Sony merger: Why IPL bidding next year will be a fight to the finish

Zee-Sony merger: Why IPL bidding next year will be a fight to the finish

It is almost a certainty that the Zee-Sony combine will be super-aggressive with the IPL bid next year

With the Zee-Sony combine money will not be in short supply With the Zee-Sony combine money will not be in short supply

The bid for the IPL will be fascinating next year. The rights are with Disney and Star India, for which they paid over Rs 16,000 crore. Cricket is a big-ticket viewership event in India and IPL is right on top. Sony had the rights for the first decade before Star India (Disney bought over the business globally) acquired it. 

With the Zee-Sony combine, broadcasting officials say money will not be in short supply. There is an interesting twist here. Zee sold Ten Sports to Sony in early 2016 for Rs 2,600 crore. It was commonly known that Ten Sports, that Zee had also acquired earlier, was struggling. Besides, Zee was always skeptical about sports broadcasting and more specifically, the inherent risk that comes with the big amounts that go into cricket.

Moreover, Sony too had burnt its fingers with the telecast rights for the cricket world cup in 2007. Much of that hit was restored with the IPL. Zee convinced Sony to buy Ten Sports but the amount paid appeared to be on the higher side. Sony, however, was banking on winning the IPL rights the following year – the five-year period was coming to end in 2017. 

As luck would have it, Star was the highest bidder (they paid over Rs 16,000 crore for five years) and Ten Sports’ portfolio without any meaningful cricket was inconsequential. Sony now had to contend with an expensive buyout, while Zee laughed all the way to the bank. The irony today is unmistakable as Zee and Sony announce a merger and Ten Sports being a part of it.

It is almost a certainty that the combine will be super-aggressive with the IPL bid next year. As one official says, “The Disney-Star combine and Network18 will do anything to win it. Just too much advertising and subscription money is riding on it.” As it is, IPL has beaten all records on bidding. 2022 will be no exception as things look.     

Also read: Zee board gives in-principle approval for merger with Sony Pictures Networks India
Also read: Zee-Sony merger: A win-win for both, strategically and geographically