Editorial

Breaking the bank: on the bid for IPL telecast rights

The Indian Premier League is the high point in the international cricket calendar. Since 2008 the annual summer staple has dished out gargantuan pay cheques, nail-biting contests and massive sixes. The player auctions often witness franchises breaking their respective banks. Despite the initial squeak of the former Australian wicket-keeper Adam Gilchrist that he felt like ‘cattle’ up for sale to the highest bidder, or the 2013 spot-fixing scandal, the IPL is here to stay. For a brand which in its formative years Rahul Dravid succinctly described as “a domestic tournament with an international flavour”, the IPL has quadrupled its growth and in the future could perhaps challenge the International Cricket Council’s global events, be it the World Cup or the World Twenty20. The league features the world’s leading cricketers, with the unfortunate exception of Pakistani players, and it gained a further financial fillip this week when Star India offered ₹16,347.5 crore to acquire the media rights for the next five years. It dwarfed the ₹8,200 crore Sony paid for the TV rights in the previous 10-year contract. That a broadcaster is willing to stake so much is confirmation of the traction the IPL has gained among television audiences, and the lodestone it remains for corporates and advertisers.

The successful bid also reiterates the plain truth that India is cricket’s commercial hub. The trend of staggering money on offer for anything that is cricket-related in India has been evident over the last few years. The enormous bids Chinese phone manufacturers Vivo (₹2,199 crore) and Oppo (₹1,079 crore) made for the IPL title sponsorship and the Indian team’s sponsorship, respectively, earlier this year drive home the point. The new media rights deal will considerably bolster the annual income of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, 15.4% of which came from the IPL according to its annual report for 2015-16. The cash flow reinforces the BCCI’s uncontested status as the wealthiest and most powerful governing body in world cricket. Star India’s winning bid also highlights the rapid growth of the game’s shortest version. It translates, approximately, to ₹54.5 crore a match, greater than the ₹43 crore currently paid for an India home international (Test, ODI and T20I). The club versus country debate will rage again, specifically when the player auction takes place in February 2018 and the league runs its course in April and May. Cricketers aren’t complaining, though. Tests remain the acme of cricket but with venues largely sporting empty stands, the five-day game needs its conveyor belt to be oiled by the commerce that the IPL and by extension the BCCI gifts to the game at large. More importantly, the confirmation of the commercial and administrative clout of the BCCI must underline yet again the need to continue the reform and clean-up of the way cricket is managed in India.


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Printable version | Jun 14, 2021 1:34:48 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/breaking-the-bank/article19626119.ece

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