ICC media rights tender for India has seen a good response: Anurag Dahiya

The ICC Chief Commercial Officer says that the successful IPL media rights auction will not have an adverse impact on the ICC’s media rights bidding process

e4m by Javed Farooqui
Published: Jul 7, 2022 8:12 AM  | 6 min read
Anurag Dahiya

The International Cricket Council (ICC), which launched its tender process for media rights on June 17, has asserted that it has seen a strong response in the Indian market.  

“Response has been very good and in line with expectations,” said ICC Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) Anurag Dahiya. Interested bidders will have to submit sealed bids to the ICC on August 22. The sealed bids will be opened in a controlled fashion with independent oversight following presentations. The ICC Board will approve the successful bid(s) and the successful bidder(s) will be announced by early September.

While Dahiya refused to share the names of entities who have picked up the tender documents, the ICC media rights for India is expected to witness a fierce bidding competition among Disney Star, Viacom18, Sony Pictures Networks India (SPNI), and Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited (ZEEL).

The ICC media rights bidding for the Indian market is happening in the backdrop of a successful Indian Premier League (IPL) media rights auction which saw Disney Star, Viacom18, and Times Internet committing Rs 48,390 crore for the cash-rich league over the next five years from 2023-27.

However, Dahiya believes that the successful IPL media rights auction will not have an adverse impact on the ICC’s media rights bidding process. On the contrary, he asserted that the IPL media rights e-auction has set the stage for ICC’s sales process.

“We are delighted to see the IPL media rights sale results, which have shown that there is a huge appetite for marquee cricket. ICC events and IPL are both highly desired by broadcasters. The cricket economy is in a strong position with exceptional products,” Dahiya said.

He also stated that the ICC has the best events calendar than it ever had before. Between 2024-31, the ICC will have 16 men's events and six women's events featuring 465 games. “We are very comfortable with the package we have put in front of the market, with a far better calendar than we have ever had before. ICC events provide the biggest, most historic moments in the sport. Last year, India v Pakistan in ICC T20 World Cup 2021 was the most-watched T20 match ever.”

Dahiya also pointed out that the ICC has three thriving and vibrant formats and a bigger calendar for women’s cricket than ever before. “All this makes our package more attractive than ever before, and a very important component in any media platform’s content strategy. Rather than diminish the commercial prospects of our rights, the IPL process has set a great stage for our sales process,” he affirmed.

There has been a radical shift in the way ICC is awarding its media rights for the next cycle. Unlike in the past, the ICC has adopted a territory-wise approach for selling the media rights. India being the most lucrative market is the first territory on the block.

The ICC has segregated men’s and women’s cricket rights. TV and digital rights have also been separated with an option to bid for composite TV + Digital rights. The council is also allowing prospective bidders to bid for either a four-year or eight-year rights cycle depending on their business objectives.

According to Dahiya, the ICC is offering both 4-year and 8-year cycle options to bidders considering the changes in the international media landscape due to the rapid adoption of digital platforms. “India’s economy is growing fast and it is difficult to predict how the media system will look in 2031, therefore we have built-in flexibility with a 4-year term. On the other hand, some potential bidders would prefer to acquire rights for a longer-term,” he added.

Dahiya also stated that some of ICC’s member boards prefer their revenue to be predictable over an 8-year period thereby making it easier for them to budget and plan. “We, therefore, structured a flexible package so that it tests the market and we can achieve the best outcome for the sport and our Members by giving potential bidders both 4- and 8-year options.”

The ICC CCO said that the council's objective is to test the market without unnecessarily constraining it into a 4- or 8-year deal term. He also revealed that the rights for other South Asian countries will be sold separately. “We expect to be in the market for those territories early next year,” he stated.

On the unbundling of men’s and women’s cricket rights, Dahiya said that the move is in line with the growing popularity of Women’s cricket in the last five years. He added that the unbundling will allow ICC to commercially exploit all its properties to the fullest. 

“When you bundle things together there is a tendency for not all rights to be exploited and promoted fully. There have been so many signals that fans love women’s cricket, look at the viewership and digital engagement from our last women’s events and they want to consume more of it,” Dahiya averred. He also noted that the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2020 got 1.1 billion video views which rose to 1.6 billion at ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup 2022.

Having raked in close to $2 billion from the ongoing eight-year media rights cycle, the ICC has decided not to set any base price in order to allow the market forces to determine the value of the rights. “There is no base price; we have confidence in the quality of our rights package and believe the bid outcomes will reflect that,” Dahiya said.

Queried about the ICC’s expectations from the sale of India media rights, Dahiya stated, “It is for the market to work out, which is the beauty of a sealed bid approach. All prospective bidders are evaluating how they can capitalise on this very valuable package of rights.”

Dahiya also believes that the presence of a TV + Digital package will not reduce competition for the individual TV and Digital rights packages. “We believe the options are optimised for maximising competition while making it possible for interested players to pay a premium if their strategy involves acquiring all rights exclusively,” he contended.

 



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