BCCI relaunches IPL media rights tender but 'no rush for deal'
The Board of Control for Cricket in India has reopened the tender process for media rights to the Indian Premier League, the prestigious Twenty20 competition, for 2018 onwards.
The original tender was postponed last October after India’s Supreme Court made the Lodha Committee, an appointed reform panel, a “custodian” of the process and insisted the BCCI adopt its recommendations.
Although the current rights deals expire after this year’s IPL, to be held in April and May, it is reported that the new administration at the BCCI is in no rush to conclude new agreements, and will accept bids until 25 October.
The media rights tender is one of several to have been launched following delays that resulted from the standoff between the court and the former leaders of the national governing body.
It is now claimed that the media rights to the coveted IPL in the next cycle could generate between Rs180 billion ($2.7 billion) and Rs300 billion.
In the initial tender launched last September, the BCCI invited bids for the television rights in the Indian subcontinent from 2018 to 2027, digital rights in the same region from 2018 to 2022 and media rights in the rest of the world from 2018 to 2022.
The governing body attracted expressions of interest from 18 Indian and international companies before being forced to postpone the process.
At present, Sony Pictures Networks holds television rights to the IPL in India in a nine-year deal worth Rs82 billion that concludes with the 2017 tournament, while rival Star India controls the digital rights.
They are expected to be the major contenders this time round although the landscape has changed in recent months with new leadership at the BCCI, the departure of a senior figure from Star and, only this month, the launch of a sports channel in India backed by Discovery Communications, which is interested in the IPL rights, and the governing body is prepared to take its time to get the best possible deal.
It is reported that the 'committee of administrators' recently appointed at the BCCI will look at the tender documents issued last year to see if changes are required, and enact them if necessary.
A source is quoted by the Times of India saying: “The former BCCI bosses were in a terrible hurry to do the IPL deal, which was rightly stopped by the Lodha Committee as the office bearers weren’t eligible to do so.
“But the current working style of BCCI is to do everything without rushing. It’s after all the most important process for BCCI.”
Last month, the Supreme Court ousted Anurag Thakur, the BCCI president, and Ajay Shirke, the organisation’s secretary, for failing to implement the recommendations of the reform panel.
It has since replaced them with the CoA comprising Vinod Rai, Ramachandra Guha, Vikram Lamaye and Diana Edulji to oversee the running of the organisation.
Star is one of the major broadcasters of cricket in India, with rights to the home international matches of the national team, although there was a surprise last November when Nitin Kukreja, its head of sports, stepped down after four years, in what was described as a “sudden development.”
There was a further stir in the Indian television sports industry last week when Discovery, which owns pan-European sports broadcaster Eurosport, announced the launch of DSport.
The channel is offering live coverage of overseas sport, notably soccer and horse racing, but is also apparently targeting cricket.
Karan Bajaj, the senior vice-president and general manager at Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific, told TelevisionPost: “The focus is on getting properties at the right valuation, including the IPL.”
Last year, the full list of companies that purchased the invitation to tender for the IPL rights was as follows: Star India; Amazon Seller Services; Followon Interactive Media; Taj TV India; Sony Pictures Networks; Times Internet; SuperSport International; Reliance Jio Digital Services; Gulf DTH; GroupM Media India; BeIN IP; Econet Media; Sky UK; ESPN Digital Media (India); BTG Legal Services; BT; Twitter; and Facebook.
In a separate process, the BCCI has now launched a request for proposals for the provision of LED services and the right and obligation to stage ‘Fan Parks’ for the Twenty20 competition.
It was claimed last November that approximately 100 tenders, including many for the 2017 IPL and a kit deal for the Indian national team, had been delayed because of the intervention of the Lodha Committee in the running of domestic cricket.
The ructions at the BCCI also caused the highly anticipated player auction for this year's IPL to be put back, but it is now set to take place in Bangalore on 20 February.
The tournament itself runs from 5 April to 21 May.