The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has sold the media rights for the star-studded inaugural Twenty20 Indian Premier League (IPL) for the next 10 years to a consortium of Sony Television network and Singapore-based World Sports Group (WSG). The Sony-WSG combine outbid the ESPN-STAR Sports network.
The touted price is $1.026 billion, comprising $918 million as rights money and $108 million for compulsory promotional activities. The deal gives Sony exclusive audio visual rights to all the 59 matches in the inaugural IPL season, which is due to start from April 2008.
The brainchild of BCCI, IPL is backed by the International Cricket Council (ICC) and supported by cricket boards around the world. BCCI officials informed that the tournament, featuring eight franchised teams, would be held over 44 days in 12 Indian cities from April 18, 2008. The top two sides in the tournament will qualify for an international Champions Twenty20 League, which will be held in October 2008.
Test captains Ricky Ponting of Australia, Graeme Smith of South Africa, Daniel Vettori of New Zealand and Shoaib Malik of Pakistan are among the 80 cricketers contracted for the IPL. The Indian team, which won the inaugural Twenty20 World Championship in South Africa in September, will also play.
Bids for the eight team franchises would be declared on January 24, 2008, IPL Chairman and Commissioner, Lalit Modi, informed, adding that player auctions would take place around February 7, 2008. “Not all the contracted players may be available in the first year because of international Test schedules, but many stars will play,” he said.