The much-awaited Indian Premier League’s (IPL) media rights tender notification was floated by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on March 29.
Shifting from the long-established norm of putting all the parts in a common pool and selling it to a single party in a composite bid, the media rights tender, this time, has been categorically divided into four bundles across two jurisdictions (India subcontinent and Rest of the world) – TV rights (Bundle A), digital rights (B), a non-exclusive special category (C), and Rest of the world TV and Digital (D). It is worth noting that bundles A-C are India subcontinent only.
It is now learnt that the bidding for arguably one of the biggest sporting properties will not end after the auction rounds as there will be more to it. As per the information stated in the Invitation to Tender (ITT), provisions are in place for the TV right winners to challenge the digital right winners in what will be a bidding knockout.
The said provision enables a single party to own both TV and OTT rights. Put simply, the winner of Bundle A can challenge the winner of Bundle B. On similar lines, Bundle B’s winners can challenge Bundle C holders.
“In a way, it is the right to match that was previously seen in the player auction,” former CEO of Nimbus, Harish Thawani, told Cricbuzz. “It will only escalate the value of every property,” he added.
ITT devised in a way to give opportunities to the smaller players: Arun Dhumal
The idea behind doing away with a composite bid scheme, which would allow a single entity to own multiple rights, is to bring in multiple broadcasting parties and, along with them, bring in more money. However, the aforementioned challenge provision will still allow a party to own multiple forms of media rights, albeit without letting the BCCI bear any financial loss as it would in the old system.
Explaining the same, BCCI Treasurer Arun Dhumal said: “If the winners of the linear rights want, they can try their luck for the digital rights also. If you recall last time around, Sony’s TV bid was higher than Star’s and Facebook’s digital bid was bigger than Hotstar’s but Star won both with one big consolidated offer that was more than the sum of the others. In such a case, there is no way to find out what is the real market value of each property.”
“The ITT has been devised and packaged in such a way that it gives opportunities to the smaller players. They may not have deep pockets to buy the big packages and this ITT ensures their participation either in a non-exclusive bundle or for international territories. Someone may be interested only in the UK, Middle East or Australia territories and they can participate. Similarly, someone may not be interested in all 74 games, they can go for the limited pack,” Dhumal elaborated.
A Cricbuzz report, meanwhile, confirmed that “only Bundle A winners can challenge the Bundle B winners, not the other way round, ostensibly because the payout by the former would be more than the latter. Similarly, the Bundle B winners can challenge the winners of Bundle C”.