The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) faces a lukewarm response from media firms ahead of the media rights auction for the Indian team’s bilateral series games. With waning interest from previous competitors in the highly successful Indian Premier League (IPL), the governing body is trying to lure global giants Amazon and Alphabet to participate in the auction. The proposed starting date for the auction process has been postponed by at least two weeks as BCCI reaches out to more firms to generate interest in the property.
The lower enthusiasm from media firms for the bilateral series media rights auction highlights the challenges of making profits amid weak advertising revenues. The IPL remains the top cricket property with higher viewership, making it more attractive for media firms than the bilateral series.
The auction process is running behind schedule, and Ernst & Young (EY), the advisor, expects the sale of rights to 102 matches to raise at least $750 million, roughly the same price as the previous five-year auction.
The IPL continues to be one of the world’s most popular sporting events, attracting the highest viewership in cricket. Last year, BCCI raised record amounts from the media rights auction for the IPL, with Viacom 18 Media Ltd. and Walt Disney Co. outbidding rivals. However, challenges arose as JioCinema, controlled by billionaire Mukesh Ambani, offered the 2023 IPL online for free, affecting Disney’s profits due to weak advertisement revenues.
Viacom 18 is expected to aggressively bid for digital media rights to the bilateral series, while Disney, undergoing a global cost reduction exercise, might adopt a cautious approach in the auction. The media giants Amazon and Alphabet are also being courted to participate in the auction.
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The BCCI has previously sold the media rights for the bilateral series to Star India for 61 billion rupees ($741 million) for five years, leading to significant losses for the buyer. A decision on breaking up the media rights into digital and linear formats for this auction and conducting an e-auction is yet to be finalized.