IPL beats EPL in per-match value

The Indian cricket board (BCCI) was in for one of the biggest bonanzas in the sporting world when the first day of the e-auction for the Indian Premier League's (IPL) media rights for the 2023-2027 cycle concluded on Sunday.

It pocketed $7.66 billion (Rs43,050 crore) - a $4.63 billion hike from the previous rights cycle - and took the IPL per-match value to over $18 million. In comparison, the English Premier League's (EPL) corresponding figure stands at $15.3 million.

The IPL is now second only after the American National Football League ($23.6 million) in per-match value and clearly ahead of the other top leagues in the world, such as the National Basketball Association ($2.7 million) and Major League Baseball ($15.3 million).

"The IPL generates more revenue than EPL. It makes me feel happy and proud that the sport I love has evolved to become so strong," said BCCI president and former India cricket team captain Sourav Ganguly.

Overall, US media behemoth Walt Disney and Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries were the major winners in the high-stakes bid to broadcast the IPL, the world's richest cricket league, for the next five years in deals fetching the BCCI $8.61 billion.

Disney-owned Star India retained the television broadcast rights to the IPL for $4.19 billion, BCCI secretary Jay Shah said on Tuesday, after a three-day online auction saw the league's broadcast value triple from the last one in 2017.

This means Disney will pay over a billion dollars more than its previous bid in 2017, which also included online streaming rights.

Viacom18, a broadcasting joint venture run by Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries, won digital streaming rights from 2023 to 2027 for $4.23 billion.

The BCCI received a total of $8.61 billion from the media rights for the five-year period, Mr Shah said in a series of tweets.

Disney's Hotstar Plus platform, which streams the IPL, is the market leader in India's crowded online streaming market, with more than 50 million paid subscribers, which analysts attribute mostly to its strong cricket content.

There were four sets of bids in the online auction, two of which went to Viacom18 and Disney.

BCCI did not specify which companies won the other two bids, which included a bespoke package that had high-value matches and the rights to broadcast in foreign territories.

The IPL, which was launched in 2008 and counts top Indian industrialists and Bollywood stars such as Shah Rukh Khan among its franchise owners, is often seen as a sure-fire ticket to high TV ratings and growth in India's booming online streaming space.

The glitzy T20 league attracts the world's best cricketers for two months of fast-paced matches played in front of packed stadiums.

"We made disciplined bids with a focus on long-term value. We chose not to proceed with the digital rights given its price," said Ms Rebecca Campbell, chairman of international content and operations at Walt Disney.

But analysts say the lack of cricket in its arsenal could hurt Disney's position as the market leader and arm Reliance with a potent weapon to capture the Indian streaming market in the next five years.

"The fact that digital rights value is higher than television shows the scale and future potential of streaming in India," said Mr Mihir Shah, vice-president of Media Partners Asia. He added that for Reliance, which will stream the IPL for the first time, the deal plays into the company's larger plans for its telco and tech arm Jio, which has 400 million broadband customers.

After receiving some massive bids, Mr Shah touched on whether the IPL would take place in two phases considering the aim to increase the number of matches in the upcoming seasons.

He told Press Trust Of India in an exclusive interview: "We are having discussions with various stakeholders. There are also multiple proposals for all the IPL franchises of playing friendlies overseas.

"That idea is being seriously contemplated but for that, we also need to speak to other boards as we would need to know the schedule of international players."

When asked how the BCCI plans on having 94 matches in the future considering that various international teams have their own commitments, Mr Shah said: "That is an aspect we have worked on.

"Let me tell you that from the next ICC (International Cricket Council) FTP (Future Tour Programme) calendar, IPL will have an official two-and-a-half-month window so that all the top cricketers can participate. We have had discussions with various boards as well as the ICC."

Reuters, Indo-Asian News Service

 
 
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