The Indian Premier League (IPL) media rights are expected to exceed most projections, thanks to the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI) strategy of separating TV and digital rights and the creation of a non-exclusive digital rights package comprising 18 premium games.

The base price for the five-year IPL media rights from 2023 to 2027 is Rs 32890 crore. This is almost double of Rs 16347.5 crore that Star India had paid for the 2017-22 media rights cycle.

The IPL media rights tender has four packages – TV rights for the Indian sub-continent, digital rights for the Indian sub-continent, non-exclusive digital rights, and rest of the world (ROW) TV and digital rights. The winner of Package B rights will also have the first right to refusal over the Package C rights.

The BCCI has set a base price of Rs 18130 crore for TV rights, Rs 12120 crore for digital rights, Rs 1440 crore for non-exclusive digital rights, and Rs 1110 crore for ROW TV and digital rights.

Experts assert that the BCCI is likely to hit a jackpot since TV rights will see a fierce contest among Disney Star, Sony Pictures Networks India (SPNI), and Viacom18. Unlike the TV rights, which will be limited to the three big players, the digital rights might see a bidding war among Disney Star, Sony, Reliance-Viacom18, and Amazon.

The game-changer, however, will be the non-exclusive digital rights comprising 18 premium games which include the opening match, four playoffs, and night games of doubleheaders. The creation of non-exclusive digital rights will encourage more bidders to throw their hats in the IPL media rights auction ring.

BCCI Treasurer Arun Dhumal has been quoted as saying that the board wants participation from all kinds of players in the media rights auction. “IPL is a global league, the idea is to make it more participatory from small to big players. There are few players for whom cricket may not be the main sport as of now but in their future plans, so they may not want to eat the whole cake but start with a small pie. This ITT ensures their participation either in a non-exclusive bundle or for international territories.”

Triplecom Media iTap Media Founder and CEO Kunal Dasgupta notes that Package C or the non-exclusive digital rights for 18 matches will see interest from virtually all the big players in the digital ecosystem apart from the usual suspects. “The BCCI has done a very smart thing by creating a non-exclusive digital package of 18 matches. The base price of Rs 1440 crore is not a big amount for many large digital platforms. This package will see a lot of action during the e -auction,” says Dasgupta.

Industry sources pointed out that the tender document states that the winner of Package B (Indian sub-continent digital rights) will have the first right of refusal over the Package C rights. “Package C has been capped at a maximum of two players. BCCI cannot give it to more than two players. The winner of Package B rights will have the right to refusal for the Package C rights. Package C will also have one winner like the other categories,” a sports broadcast official said on the condition of anonymity.

The e-auction will begin with TV rights followed by digital rights, non-exclusive digital rights, and ROW rights. In each round, the bidders will have to better the price of the highest bidder by 5%. The actual value of the media rights will be much bigger than what most people had estimated,” the official added.

ITW Consulting MD Bhairav ​​Shanth believes that the unbundling will help BCCI to unlock more value. “The NFL offers separate bundles of games and so does the English Premier League as well as the UEFA Champions League. In each case, unbundling unlocks more value because different players can pick up packages that make sense for them and their markets. As per the new TV rights deal signed by the NFL last year, CBS, ESPN/ABC, Fox, and NBC along with Amazon will pay almost $100 billion over the next 11 years for the rights to air NFL, a more than 100 per cent increase compared with the last rights cycle.”

He also states that the future value of the IPL lies in creating more such specific packages. “It actually will make it more of a focused play for those who pick the blocks up – the IPL audience is large enough now to be more specifically targeted (region-wise, viewing habit-wise, income-wise, etc) and that’s where the value will lie for packages like these,” he added.

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