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Broadcasters raise concern regarding the massive IPL base price set by BCCI

Broadcasters expecting to bid at the upcoming IPL media rights auctions have raised concerns regarding the massive base price set by the Board of Control for Cricket India (BCCI).

A source working with one of the major broadcasters gearing to bid at the forthcoming e-auction told BusinessLine that the ₹32,890 crore price tag on the premier league is too high. The executive cited declining viewership numbers for the premier league as well as non-exclusive rights to air certain matches as the reason. Sony, which is another serious bidder in the auction, has also raised concerns over the base price.

NP Singh, Managing Director and CEO of Sony Pictures Networks India said in a recent media interview, “It’s a very aggressive reserve price and there has to be a reality check as TV viewership of IPL has dropped by over 34 per cent, and at a time when the rights are coming up for renewal.”

The much-anticipated e-auction is set to kick off on June 12, and market watchers expect IPL media rights to be sold off at a whopping price. Rising viewership numbers and brand value for the premier cricketing league have already compelled BCCI to nearly double the 2017 winning bid of Disney Star (at ₹16,347.5 crore) and set it as the base price- the minimum price at which a media entity can buy all 4 category of airing rights up for auction.

As the auction nears, market watchers believe that broadcasting entities such as Amazon, Reliance, Disney Star, and Zee Sony are likely to be the serious contenders in this auction. Fundraising efforts are in full swing. A month before the auctions former Disney executive Uday Shankar and James Murdoch sealed a deal with Reliance Industries to pump in ₹13,500 crore into Viacom 18, likely for the upcoming auction.

IPL is the crown jewel in any broadcaster’s roster. It can drive massive reach amongst India’s cricket-loving audience. Therefore, industry insiders tell BusinessLine that broadcasters’ bidding enthusiasm has not been dampened. However, they want the cricket governing body to reconsider its base price.

As per data provided by the Broadcast Audience Research Council, the season of IPL that is currently being aired has seen a massive drop in viewership. IPL TV rating declined 33 per cent in the opening week, and the viewership saw a 14 per cent drop. Sources also tell BusinessLine that IPL’s digital viewership numbers are also in decline.

Broadcasters will be able to purchase the Invitation To Tender document to express their interest in the sports property till May 10, and the auction will kick off on June 12. This time, BCCI has done away with the option of a composite bid. IPL media rights have been split into four categories – TV rights for the Indian sub-continent, digital rights for the Indian sub-continent, special games, and rest of the world (ROW) rights. Experts believe that the segregation of TV and digital rights will help BCCI to unlock value for both the mediums. The Hindu BusinessLine

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