The BCCI’s new policy permits groups to bid for cricket media rights, possibly benefiting the Sony-Zee merger. This change could reshape media partnerships in Indian cricket, impacting the upcoming auction.
In a game-changing move, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has revised its policy, permitting consortiums to participate in bilateral media rights auctions. This surprising shift from their previous stance, which excluded consortiums from media rights bidding, has the potential to reshape the landscape of media partnerships in Indian cricket.
Notably, this policy shift could significantly favor the ongoing merger discussions between Sony Pictures Network India and Essel Group’s Zee Network. The relaxation of this policy enables the media giants to join forces, potentially leading to heightened value in media rights bids. This strategic collaboration leverages the robust linear and digital presence possessed by both entities, presenting a strong challenge to competitors like Viacom 18 and Disney Star.
The impending merger of Sony and Zee, although marred by legal disputes, has remained a focal point in India Inc. While the merger’s completion date is tentatively set for October 1, it remains uncertain if the two will form a consortium for the upcoming auction. However, as per the Invitation to Tender (ITT) issued by the BCCI, such a move would be permissible.
The ITT outlines key timelines, with the auction slated to conclude by August 31. BCCI is open to inquiries until August 16, and technical assessment bids must be submitted by August 28. Notably, participating firms must ensure incremental bids amount to a minimum of Rs 1 crore. This requirement applies to companies vying for India sub-continent linear rights, India-sub-continent digital rights, and global TV and digital rights.
The forthcoming five-year cricket cycle, commencing in September 2023, encompasses 88 games. Linear rights have a base price of Rs 20 crore, and digital rights start at Rs 25 crore. The combined bid value must surpass Rs 60 crore (approximately Rs 5200 crore in total) to avoid a process reconsideration.
Winning companies must provide commentary availability in five languages, including English and Hindi, with the choice of remaining regional languages at the broadcaster’s discretion. This policy shift and upcoming auction have set the stage for a dynamic transformation in the media rights landscape of Indian cricket.