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Google and Amazon keep away from bidding for IPL media rights

On the eve of the much-anticipated auctions of IPL media rights, the flirtation of tech giants with the coveted sports property appears to be over. Jeff Bezos-backed Amazon has withdrawn from the media rights race and Google India did not submit its technical bid to the Board of Control for Cricket India (BCCI) as well.

This ends expectations of a mega battle between Amazon and Mukesh Ambani-backed Reliance group for acquiring the media rights of one of the most popular live sporting events in the world.

‘Stringent rules’
The much-awaited auctions for the 2023-2027 media rights for the Indian Premier League will happen June 12. On Friday, companies had to submit their bids to the BCCI. The bids were then technically evaluated by the BCCI’s legal and finance team. The bidders who qualified technically advanced to the bidding round which will be conducted on Sunday.

According to highly placed sources, Amazon was initially very interested to get the rights, however, “The (BCCI) rules are very stringent, they (BCCI) are not willing to tweak them, it doesn’t make business sense for us anymore, thus we are opting out of the race.” An email sent to Amazon went unanswered.

Sources in Google told BusinessLine that the company was never interested in the cricket property. “Google did not even participate in the IPL mock auction held by BCCI on Monday. Contrary to several reports Google was never interested in acquiring IPL media rights,” they said.

What BCCI might lose
The participation of tech giants, especially Amazon, was expected to drive up the selling price of these rights, especially for the digital category of the rights. BCCI has set the base price for the media rights at a combined total of ₹33,000 crore. Analysts such as Elara Capital estimated that the sale of these rights would bring the cricketing body’s revenue around ₹50,000-60,000 crore. Digital rights were expected to fetch the highest (100 per cent) premium. Therefore, this development might come as a big blow for BCCI.

As the date for auctions draws close, the final list of top prospective bidders is likely to be Reliance-Viacom18, Sony and the incumbent Disney Star, who can credit IPL media rights as the reason that catapulted the company to market supremacy. Sony will also be looking to acquire IPL media rights to give its well-curated sports portfolio, the boost that it needs. Ahead of the Zee-Sony merger, having IPL in its roster will guarantee that the merged entity can emerge as a market leader in media and entertainment. The Hindu BusinessLine

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