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At a base price of Rs 33,000 crore, will IPL media rights make business sense?

Unlike last time, there is no option of a composite bid this time around

The e-auction of IPL media rights for 2023-27 will kick off on June 12 at a total base price of Rs 32,890 crore, calculated on the basis of 74 matches to be played every season.

In case of an increase in the number of matches during the five year period, the successful bidder will have to pay for additional matches calculated on a pro-rata basis.

The number of matches is expected to gradually increase to 84 matches in 2024 and 2025, and will further increase to 94 matches in 2026 and 2027.

According to the Invitation to Tender document, BCCI has divided the rights into four bundles, including a non-exclusive cluster only for one OTT player.

Unlike last time, there is no option of a composite bid this time around.

Bundle A: India sub-continent TV rights; base price Rs 49 crore per match - total base price for 74 matches per season Rs 18,130 crore.

Bundle B: India sub-continent digital rights; base price Rs 33 crore per match - total base price for 74 matches per season Rs 12,210 crore.

Bundle C: Non-exclusive India sub-continent digital rights for 18 games (opening match, 4 playoffs, night games of the doubleheader): Rs 16 crore per match - total base price for 18 matches per season Rs 1,440 crore.

Bundle D: Rest of the world TV and Digital: Rs 3 crore per match - total base price for 74 matches per season Rs 1,110 crore.

Considering Star India had bought combined rights for 2018-22 at Rs 16, 347 crore (Rs 54 crore per match), the base price per match for the upcoming auction is Rs 85 crore (excluding Bundle C), up 57% from what Star India had paid five years ago.

For the non-exclusive Bundle C, which includes 4 playoffs, it is not clear how the board arrived at a base price figure of Rs 16 crore vs Rs 33 crore for league matches, commented an industry expert.

“From the revenues point of view, it is clear by now that no successful bidder will be able to break even at this cost for media rights. Star India did not make monies from IPL. Although they were able to build their sports and OTT businesses riding on IPL, what if they don’t win the rights this time around? Their business and revenues will come down drastically and another successful bidder will play the same game,” the expert added.

Star India is expected to earn Rs 4,000 crore from IPL 2022 including digital’s contribution of Rs 800-900 crore. It means Star India will earn anything between Rs 65 crore to Rs 70 crore per match this season.

“If the media rights cost Rs 40,000 crore for a successful bidder, it will have to generate a revenue of Rs 8,000 every year on average. The average earning per match, in this case, should be in the excess of Rs 110 crore. This figure could be possible towards the end of the deal but the broadcaster will have to bear the brunt until then,” a senior media analyst said.

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