ICC to float media rights tender soon

A source close to the development said the cricket board may start the tender process as early as Monday next week

e4m by Javed Farooqui
Published: Jun 17, 2022 8:03 AM  | 4 min read

With the Indian Premier League (IPL) media rights auction concluded, the International Cricket Council (ICC) is gearing up to sell its media rights for the next cycle. The ICC was waiting for the IPL media rights auction to get over before hitting the market.

A source close to the development said that the ICC is planning to float the tender as early as Monday (June 20) next week. The IPL media rights auction concluded on 14th June with Disney Star India (Indian sub-continent TV rights), Viacom18 (Indian sub-continent digital rights & international media rights excluding US & MENA), and Times Internet (International media rights for US & MENA) emerging victorious.

The IPL media rights were sold for a jaw-dropping Rs 48,390 crore or Rs 118.02 crore per match for the 2023-27 cycle involving 410 games. With the Indian media companies committing close to Rs 50,000 crore towards the IPL for the next five years, the ICC will have its task cut out to get the maximum value for its rights.

"The ICC is planning to come out with its tender on Monday," says a top TV broadcast official on condition of anonymity.

Disney Star India had bagged the ICC media rights for an eight-year cycle from 2015 to 2023 for a whopping $2 billion which was almost double of $1.1 billion that ESPN Star Sports, the erstwhile JV between Disney and Fox, had paid for the 2007-14 cycle.

Sources close to the ICC said that the men's and women's cricket rights will be sold separately considering the growing interest in the latter. The source also said that the timing to sell ICC media rights couldn't be better as the cricket economy is in a strong position on the back of a successful IPL media rights auction.

"There is a great appetite for cricket and it will be exciting to see how this plays out in the tender process. In addition, the unbundling of rights due to continued growth in interest in women’s cricket means the rights will be sold separately which is a positive step change for women’s sport," the source said.

The top executive of a leading sports management company said that the segregation of men's and women's rights is a step in the right direction. "If the ICC does not use the momentum it will get washed out. Also, it will be interesting to see if ICC will go for RFP or tender or e-auction," he stated.

The executive also said that the ICC media rights bid might also see interest from Apple, Amazon, and Netflix apart from the usual suspects Disney Star India, Viacom18, Sony Pictures Networks India (SPNI), and Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited (ZEEL). "Apple, Amazon, Netflix might make a play for ICC digital rights," he noted.

The ICC is reportedly looking to sell territory-wise rights starting with India. The media rights cycle might also be halved from the current eight years to four years due to the rapidly changing media landscape.

It will be interesting to see if the ICC will bundle all the rights together in one package or segregate the TV and digital rights to get a better price discovery for the latter. The ICC, which had sold its rights to Star in 2015, believes that the media rights sale process must factor in the tectonic shift in the content consumption pattern.

Reliance Jio's entry followed by the crash in data prices and the growing penetration of smartphones has made mobile the primary screen for consuming content even as traditional broadcasting is going strong. With the huge growth in digital video consumption and the impending 5G auctions, the ICC is betting big on digital rights to lift the overall media rights value. The IPL media rights value also went through the roof because of the aggressive bidding for digital rights.

The ICC Board had last year confirmed the schedule of ICC events from 2024 to 2031 for both men's and women's cricket. The men's cricket will include 4 T20 World Cups, 2 Cricket World Cups, 2 Champions Trophy tournaments, and 4 World Test Championship (WTC) Finals. The Women's cricket will include 4 T20 World Cups, 2 Cricket World Cups, and 2 T20 Champions Trophy tournaments.


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