With the media rights for the marquee Indian Premier League (IPL) bringing in a whopping Rs 48,390 crore or about 3x over the earlier bid, there is a lot of interest on how much the ICC (International Cricket Council) rights will fetch. They are currently held by Disney Star India after being acquired in late 2014 for $2 billion (approximately Rs 12,000 crore then) for the eight-year period between 2015-2023 – that was 2x more than what was paid for the earlier bid.
The ICC rights encompass the World Cup, T20 World Cup, and the Champions Trophy, with these three major tournaments being the big attractions. Taking a leaf out of the IPL bid, the tack this time has been to split the rights: in all, there are six packages across television and digital.
Apart from Disney Star, it is expected that Viacom18, Sony and Zee will evince interest but the extent to which they push themselves remains to be seen. For one, the winners of the key IPL rights – Disney Star and Viacom18 – have spent huge amounts, plus how much the ICC rights incrementally brings to the table for broadcasters is not very clear.
“The ICC rights for India have a fundamental issue with advertisers, and that’s the scenario of an early exit by India, as we saw at the 2021 T20 World Cup. One saw the broadcaster’s revenue being significantly hit,” explains Balu Nayar, former MD of IMG and a key architect of the IPL. He expects the same bidders to participate, “though the amounts would not show much of an increase over the last time, and definitely not anywhere near the growth seen for the IPL rights.”
Besides, there is a big difference between the IPL and ICC. According to Madan Mohapatra, an independent marketing and media consultant, the latter is always “high-risk, high-return proposition” and not without reason.
“Your fortune gets linked to that of team India’s. For instance, 2007 was an interesting year where India won the T20 World Cup but could not go beyond the group stage in the ODI World Cup. Expectedly, audience interest dropped significantly, severely affecting the return on investment for both advertisers and broadcasters,” Mohapatra says.
To him, the IPL bids are a positive for the ICC. “Disney Star will try to retain the rights, while both Sony and Viacom18 will to bid aggressively to win. For Star, it is about maintaining the monopoly for India cricket broadcast and for Sony, they will need it to grow their sports broadcast business. Viacom18 would want to establish themselves as a very serious player in sports broadcasting.”
That said, as Mohapatra puts it, the winner "faces the challenge of selling the ICC to advertisers. Unlike the IPL, since it is linked to the success of the Indian team.
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