IPL Media Rights: BCCI gears up for skyrocketing bids

In a week that saw the Supreme Court of India come up with some landmark judgements, a bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud also heard Rajya Sabha member Subramanian Swamy’s petition on e-auction for Indian Premier League (IPL) rights and concluded that the BCCI’s existing process needs to stay.

It came as a relief more than surprise to the BCCI, considering the Board was confident the SC would set aside Swamy’s petition. Their contention remained that “cricket is not coal” and the fact that “no sports property across the world gets sold through an e-auction”.

Senior advocate Parag Tripathi, appearing for the SC-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA), said that the ongoing tender process was the best option possible. The existing process requires all bidders to submit their best bid in a sealed envelope.

CoA head Vinod Rai was also asked by the SC to submit an affidavit stating that the existing process for auctioning of media rights was the best way forward.

With the stage set for BCCI to go ahead with the auction through closed bids, the Board expects stiff competition from 24 companies that have picked up the Invitation To Tender (ITT). Star India Pvt Ltd and Sony Pictures Networks (SPN) remain in lead to bid for the television rights of the property while overseas e-commerce giant Amazon now finds itself in contention with India’s leading 4G service provider Jio to bid for the digital rights.

Other big names in the fray, from a high-profile list, include social network giants Facebook and Twitter. Times Internet Ltd has also picked the ITT.

As TOI had reported earlier, market sources expect that the total value of the bid will be in excess of US$3b, especially given the manner in which BCCI ended up selling the Team India jersey and IPL title rights in the recent past.

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