Even after the controversy over sharing the recent Indo-Pak cricket series feed, public broadcaster Prasar Bharati is not ruling out a similar option for the five-year BCCI India matches. Bidding for the telecast rights to five-year BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) cricket, to be played in India, is likely to be held in a couple of weeks.
While sport channels ESPN-Star Sports and Ten Sports are claiming to “bid aggressively” for the BCCI India matches, Prasar Bharati would opt for a “professionally assessed bid”. According to Prasar Bharati CEO KS Sarma, “if we fail to acquire the rights, we would explore other options”. Mr Sarma admitted that if another channel wins the bid, Doordarshan would like to get into an arrangement for sharing the feed. Just like in the case of Indo-Pak series.
As is known, Dubai-based Ten Sports, which had the exclusive rights to the recent series played in Pakistan, refused to share the cricket signals with DD, but the public broadcaster didn’t give up in the name of “national interest”. Subsequently, the Supreme Court ordered Ten Sports to share its feed with DD.
This time again, Prasar Bharati is quite likely to work out a “signal-sharing” and “revenue-sharing” formula with the rights holder for the five-year BCCI India matches, according to sources. In fact, before the bid process, an empowered committee, constituting Prasar Bharati board members, will hold a meeting with BCCI officials on the rights modalities.
One of the goals of the meeting is to discuss the idea of DD sharing the feed with the rightsholder broadcaster, perhaps on a “revenue-sharing” basis, according to industry sources. As the rights could be quite expensive, such an arrangement would work to DD’s advantage, they added.
ESPN, it is understood, would go all out to acquire the rights to the BCCI matches. Top officials of ESPN were not available for comments. Ms Sharmista Rijhwani, managing director, Taj Television India Pvt Ltd, which runs Ten Sports, said: “Of course, after bringing the historic India tour of Pakistan to the Indian viewer, we are aggressively bidding to acquire rights for all upcoming cricketing properties which include The Asia Cup, BCCI rights and the Tri-nation tourney in Holland.”
Asked if Prasar Bharati/DD would also bid aggressively, Mr Sarma replied: “We’ll go for a professionally assessed bid.” Even as market sources claimed that private channels could bid for as much as Rs 600 -700 crore for the five-year rights, Mr Sarma dismissed that as “speculation”. Prasar Bharati, which is the current rights-holder to the five-year BCCI matches ending this year, had paid Rs 252 crore as bid money along with Rs 40 crore as production cost last time.
On whether the public broadcaster is open to sharing its feed with other channels, in case Prasar Bharati wins the bid, Mr Sarma said: “We might consider only if a channel is willing to pay something in the range of Rs 1000 crore!” He, quickly added, “that’s unlikely.”