Star India has paid a staggering Rs 16,347.5 crore for the IPL rights and is known to have increased its ad rate by 20-25 per cent as it needs to earn Rs 54 crore per match to be profitable. Although the broadcaster claims it has managed to sell 90 per cent of its IPL ad inventory, the talk in the industry is that Star is far from achieving the Rs 54 crore target per match. So, in a situation where it is already struggling with IPL, why would it shell out another Rs 6,128 crore for the BCCI rights? Industry sources look at it as a well-thought-out strategy not only to keep Sony Pictures Network at bay but also to stave off Reliance.
Reliance has the Jio edge and also upped its stake in Viacom18. Barring Star, if there is anyone who has the wherewithal to make such bold bets, it is Reliance. Star India is clearly thinking long-term and is not too worried about getting advertising revenue in the short term, thanks to its deep pockets. It is likely to come up with innovative ways of monetising cricket in the months to come. The real challenge, however, lies in safeguarding the cricketing rights for the long term to make the most of it. Both Reliance and Sony must have started planning their next move.