New Delhi: The rights to broadcast India’s home matches are up for grabs. A round of frenzied bidding from Star India and SPN, owned by Sony Corp, is on the cards as the two major players in the Indian market are expected to fight tooth and nail to grab the rights. But both have written to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) making their displeasure known. The main reason is that the BCCI wants the media rights winner to pay the same amount for matches involving two visiting teams as well in case of international series like a World T20 or 50-over World Cup.
Star in its letter, in possession of CricketNext, has written: “The average viewership on Indian matches is significantly higher than on non-India matches (as surveyed during the Asia Cup in 2016). Even an India match with a non-Test playing nation generates more viewership than two major Test nations playing each other. The bidder is expected to attribute the same per match value to any such match, without any realistic possibility of recovering such value. Paying same per match value for India matches and non-India matches is not commercially viable. We request the BCCI and CoA to reconsider their position.”
Sony has echoed the same sentiments in their letter, in possession of CricketNext, writing: “These last minute changes on the bid documentation and the online bid is making it difficult for us to prepare for the bid on 3rd April. As you know, there are a lot of calculations and modelling that goes into a bid preparation and these last minute changes create so much uncertainty. One issue that is particularly of concern is regarding tri-series in India organized by the BCCI. The clarification says all matches will be valued the same. This means an India-Afghanistan-Bangladesh or an India-Bangladesh-Zimbabwe will be valued equally with an India-Australia-South Africa. This quite frankly is illogical. Advertisers and even the viewing public do not value these matches equally and for the BCCI to consider all of them as having the same value does injustice to bidders. We would earnest request BCCI to reconsider.”
Star India paid $757.6 million for the rights to broadcast the matches from July 2012 to March 2018. SPN lost out to Star India for the Indian Premier League, after televising the cash-rich league from 2008 till 2017. While SPN lost out in the bid to get the media rights of the IPL, they won the license to broadcast Australian and English cricket in the subcontinent, taking their tally to seven Test playing nations.
"The whole idea was to strengthen our overall leadership position," Rajesh Kaul, the president of SPN's Sports and Distribution Business, had said last month. "ECB was a very important and integral part of the strategy. While Australian cricket happens during the winter here, cricket in England is during the summer. There is a very encouraging trend of other sports also getting traction in this part of the world but cricket is still the largest. And to have that dominant leadership position in cricket was very, very critical for us."
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