MUMBAI: For the third time in 15 years, the coveted media rights for the Indian Premier League (IPL) will go on sale. The BCCI is ready with the Invitation-To-Tender (ITT) for the 2023-27 cycle and is likely to bring it out next week.
“Transparency” remains the keyword in the entire process and to ensure the same, the BCCI has gone ahead and decided to conduct an e-auction. BCCI secretary Jay Shah, who is overseeing the entire process, says he has little doubt the game’s hottest property anywhere in the world will once again justify its ability to attract top-dollar in the India market, and globally.
“Doing our best to acquire the justified value that a brand like IPL warrants is definitely on top of my mind. At the same time, we will also maintain complete transparency and that is one of the reasons why the media rights will be awarded through an e-auction,” Shah told TOI this week. “You can gauge the popularity of the league and the confidence of the investors from the interest it generated and the valuation that the two teams attracted”.
He further added: “The level of interest in securing this property is huge. We had deliberations and analysed different ways to conduct the tender process. We were very clear that the process we shortlist should fetch the league the right value it deserves while the process must remain transparent throughout. The e-auction will provide bidders with an equal and fair platform to stake their claims.”
The BCCI has further adopted unique features in tendering of rights this time, deciding to explore the digital platforms by inviting bids for multiple packages. In fact, to avoid any unforeseen circumstances emerging out of issues related to network and connectivity, the BCCI may opt for the entire process to be conducted via the intranet instead of the internet.
Industry insights have already pegged the rights to attract a consolidated value in excess of US$6b (Rs 45,000 cr +). Shah, however, is not counting yet. The onus, he says, has to be on the process and if that goes as planned, the outcome will only benefit Indian cricket.
“We are in the closing stages of our discussions to finalise the dates to float the tender and we will come out with the ITT over the next few days. As per the standard guidelines, we will complete the process within 45-60 days once the tender is released.
“The IPL symbolises a melting pot; effervescent with fresh ideas. This is critical to constantly innovate customer engagement tools and also retain the ability to attract top (sporting and non-sporting) talent. The league is much sought after not only amongst cricket lovers but also our partners such as the sponsors, broadcasters and franchise owners. It is therefore imperative that the BCCI holds itself to the highest stands of ethical and transparent behaviour by holding an auction that is ingenious at its core, allows for maximum participation from existing and newer partners and does so with an objective to maximise our financial goals which is critical for the development of the sport at the grass roots level. Our auction program checks all these requirements,” the Board secretary said during an extensive interaction.
The Board secretary thanked president and colleague Sourav Ganguly and other office bearers for playing an active role in the entire process and his overall contributions. He reiterated that all the revenue generated from the IPL goes back into the game at the grassroots and domestic level.
“At BCCI, the growth of the game is of paramount importance and our entire focus will be on making cricket better, making the lives of cricketers better and building better infrastructure for everyone to play the beautiful game. The revenue generated from the IPL goes back into the game to firm up our grassroots infrastructure and domestic cricket,” he said.
With technology changing at a fast pace and the pandemic giving way for OTT to compete with television on a far more aggressive scale, the Board expects the digital space – from a rights perspective – to attract multiple players.
Soon after the BCCI is done tendering the IPL, the cricket board will get busy working on the bilateral rights tender for the 2024-28 rights cycle. Shah firmly believes the prioritising of upcoming calendar events will augur well for the sport and also help the International Cricket Council (ICC) plan their calendar seamlessly.
“Bilateral tender should be our focus immediately post (IPL),” Shah added.
Not once, but twice in the middle of a raging pandemic, the BCCI shifted the IPL out of the country – the entire season in 2020 and the second half in 2021 – and Shah says it will be an “understatement” to say the process was challenging.
“Given the circumstances we were in, the challenge just got amplified. But through collective determination and resolve we made it possible. I have mentioned this several times in the past that India will always be IPL’s home. And that’s what we wanted to do in 2021 with all necessary precautions in place, but despite our best efforts, there were some positive cases detected inside the bubble and we had to pause. We put the health and safety of our stakeholders right at the top. Many thought the league was over, but we remained focused and had faith in our processes,” Shah said.
For the record, this is the first time in IPL history that the T20 league has all its sponsorship slots filled up and crossed Rs 1000 cr for a single season.