Confusion over ICC media rights process continues

While the ICC has insisted that broadcasters will participate in the bid submission process, media reports suggest the Big 4 broadcasters have given the mock auctions a miss

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Published: Aug 19, 2022 8:38 AM  | 4 min read
Cricket

The International Cricket Council (ICC) and the Big 4 broadcasters – Disney Star, Zee Entertainment, Sony Pictures Networks India, and Viacom18 – seemed to have hit the dead end over the media rights tender process for the Indian market.

While the ICC has insisted that the broadcasters will participate in the bid submission process, media reports suggest the big broadcasters have given the mock auctions a miss.  Amazon and Dream Sports-backed FanCode are believed to have been the only participants in the mock auctions.

The ICC had earlier postponed the mock auctions from August 12-16 to August 16 and 17. Despite the postponement, the big broadcasters have stayed away from the mock auctions.

An ICC official said the cricket body was confident that the broadcasters would submit their bids before the deadline. "Competition for our rights remains strong and we expect a good outcome from the process," the official added.

According to a senior official with a leading broadcasting firm, the ICC has made it clear that it will not make any changes to the media rights tender notwithstanding the pressure being exerted by the big broadcasters.

Media analysts tracking the bidding process believe that the ICC's insistence on not making any changes to the tender process has put the council on a collision path with the broadcasters. This, they say, doesn't bode well for the media rights process, particularly since the Indian market brings the lion's share of the revenue to the ICC.

Even before the boycott of the mock auctions, the broadcasters had shot off letters to the ICC highlighting their concerns with respect to certain clauses in the media rights tender. The broadcasters had sought clarification from the ICC as to how it would decide the winner since it has given the flexibility to bid for both four and eight-year durations.

The second area of concern was regarding the criteria on which a bidder would qualify for the e-auction or Round 2 of the media rights process. The ICC intends to conduct an e-auction if it is not satisfied with the value of the bids in the first round. Round 1 of the media rights process involves closed bidding while Round 2 will see open bidding via e-auction.

The ICC has already issued clarifications on some of the other issues raised by the broadcasters. The date of submission of financial bids has been moved to August 26 from August 22. The submission date for the technical bid will remain August 22. Earlier, the ICC had fixed August 22 as the date of submission of bids and August 26 as the date of opening of bids.

The council has assured that it will not disclose the bid figures of other parties. The successful bidder will be announced by the ICC board in September.

The council has also provided clarifications on the issue of withholding tax and 20 per cent extra media rights fee payment if the tournament is shifted to India or an India-friendly time zone.

On the withholding of tax issue, the ICC is believed to have told the broadcasters that the onus of withholding any tax liabilities will be on the cricket body and not the broadcasters.

As far as the 20 per cent extra rights fee payment is concerned, the council has clarified that the broadcast/streaming partner will have to pay 20 per cent less in case the tournament is shifted out of India or an India-friendly time zone.

The ICC released its first Invitation To Tender (ITT) for media rights for the next cycle of ICC events starting in 2024 on June 20. The ITT for the Indian market includes up to six packages available across TV only, digital-only, or a combination of both.

The council is selling Men’s and Women’s rights separately, and prospective partners can bid for 16 Men’s events (over 8 years) and six Women’s events (over 4 years), totalling 362 and 103 matches, respectively. Interested parties will be required to submit a bid for the first four years of Men’s events. However, they also have the option of bidding for an eight-year partnership.

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