Disney Star and Viacom 18 share the spoils in 6 billion-dollar-plus IPL rights deal

The world’s richest cricket league has just got a lot richer. The IPL’s blockbuster media rights auction will net a potential INR 48,390 crore (US$ 6.2 billion approx.) in the next five years, making the league among the wealthiest in the world of sports.

Disney Star* has retained the TV rights in the subcontinent for INR 23,575 crore (US$ 3 billion approx.), while Viacom 18 secured the digital rights in the same region and media rights (both TV and digital) across three global regions – Australia + New Zealand, the UK and South Africa – for INR 23,758 crore (US$ 3 billion approx). Media rights for two other global regions – the Middle East (INR 205 crore/US$ 26.27 million approx.) and the USA (INR 258 crore/US$ 33.06 million approx.) – go to Times Internet.

Broken down further, Disney Star will pay INR 57.5 crore (US$ 7.36 million approx.) per match, while Viacom 18, who won the subcontinental digital rights for all matches at Rs 50 (US$ 6.40 million approx.) crore a match, and then committed another INR 33 crore (US$ 4.22 million approx.) per match for a non-exclusive package of high-profile games (ranging between 18 and 22 matches), will effectively end up paying just over INR 58 crore (US$ 7.43 million approx.) per match. Throw in the global numbers, and the IPL is now behind only the NFL in per-match value.

Digital rights in high demand
In this rights cycle, digital rights have exceeded the value of TV rights, albeit narrowly. They have been the biggest driver of growth in the value of the IPL rights. The winning bid for the digital rights in the subcontinent alone was 13% higher than the overall bid Star India had made to win the global consolidated rights [TV and digital] in 2017. The importance and the rapid rise of the digital footprint in the Indian market can be gauged from the fact that in 2017, the highest bid for the digital rights was INR 3900 crore (US$ 0.61 billion approx.), by Facebook. [Despite that high bid, Star had pipped Facebook to the digital rights with its consolidated offer.]

The highest bid for the TV rights in the subcontinent was 17.3% higher than the per-match base price of INR 49 crore (US$ 6.3 million approx.) the IPL had set for it. The corresponding number for digital rights in the region saw a massive jump of 51.5% higher than the per-match base price of INR 33 crore (US$ 4.2 million approx.).

Apart from the obvious windfall for the BCCI, the blockbuster deal will provide a huge cash bonanza to the IPL franchises, whose share of central revenue is set to rise to nearly INR 500 crore each.

How the bidding worked
The e-auction for the rights started on Sunday, with rights available across four packages. Package A included TV rights for the Indian subcontinent, Package B was digital rights for the same region, Package C comprised digital rights for the Indian subcontinent for a “special package” of non-exclusive matches including the tournament opener, weekend evening matches, and the four playoffs, and Package D was media rights (TV and digital combined) to various global regions.

The rules were such that the bids for Packages A and B would be submitted together and the winner of Package A would be determined first. That winner then had the option of entering into a bidding contest with the highest bidder for Package B. Similarly, the winner of Package B had the choice of getting into a direct contest with the highest bidders for Packages C and D.

*ESPNcricinfo and Disney Star are part of the Walt Disney Company.

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