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BCCI set for another big payday as e-auction for Indian cricket rights heats up

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Indian cricket's rags-to-riches broadcast rights story (1:19)

From once paying the national channel to broadcast cricket to earning millions every game, the BCCI has come a long way (1:19)

The bidding for the television and digital rights to broadcast Indian cricket from 2018 to 2023 has already passed the winning bid for the previous cycle by over 15%, and the e-auction has spilled into a second day to resume at 11am on Wednesday.

The top bid in the e-auction stands at INR 4442 crores (USD 680 million approx.) in the Global Consolidated Rights (GCR) category, which comprises the worldwide television and digital rights to international cricket hosted by the BCCI in India.

Once the bidding began at 2pm IST on Tuesday, the BCCI tweeted an update with an initial top bid of INR 4176 crore for the GCR category; subsequent higher bids were INR 4201.20 cr, INR 4244 cr, INR 4303 cr, INR 4328.25 cr and INR 4442 cr.

After every bid, participants got an hour to raise, which made the e-auction a two-day affair because proceedings could not go beyond 6pm IST on Tuesday. The bidding process will continue until the participants notify that they do not wish to bid higher.

The bidders were narrowed down from six to three - Sony Pictures Network India, Star India and Reliance - after the BCCI's legal team carried out technical and feasibility checks before the e-auction began on Tuesday.

There were three categories of rights on sale: the Indian television rights and rest of the world digital rights (GTVRD), digital rights for the Indian subcontinent alone (ID), and the global consolidated rights (GCR) comprising worldwide TV and digital rights.

The successful bidder will get to telecast 102 men's international matches over the five-year period compared to 96 in the previous six-year cycle from 2012 to 2018. The 102 matches will be split among the home seasons as follows: 18 in 2018-19, 26 in 2019-20, 14 in 2020-21, 23 in 2021-22 and 21 in 2022-23. The rights will also include men's domestic matches as well as the India women's international matches.

As per the latest break-up of the season-wise bid released by the BCCI, the third bid amount of the day of INR 4244 saw the highest per match bid of INR 43 cr for the 2018-19 season, followed by INR 42.50 cr each for the 2021-22 and 2022-23 seasons, and INR 40 cr each for the remaining two seasons, 2019-20 and 2020-21. According to a BCCI official, the figures for the last two seasons of the cycle - 2021-22 and 2022-23 - for the final bid of the day could have reached close to INR 47 cr per match to keep the inflation factor in mind.

For the last bid made on Tuesday, of INR 4442 cr for 102 matches across five seasons, the average figure per match amounts to INR 43.5 cr which is 8.5% above the previous cycle's per match average of INR 40.1 cr. The BCCI official expected this per match average to go up to around INR 60-65 cr by the time the bid ends, which would take the total bid amount into the range of INR 6100-6600 cr. That would mean a rise of at least 13% for the per match average and at least 58% when compared with the total amount of INR 3851 cr for the previous cycle.

In 2012, Star TV, then owned by Rupert Murdoch, had won the rights to broadcast Indian cricket until 2018. That deal, which also included internet and mobile rights, was valued at INR 3851 cr (approximately USD 750 million at the time). The other bidder that year - at INR 3700 cr (USD 727 million at the time) - was Multi-Screen Media (Sony).

The sale of these rights will mean a second huge payday for the BCCI in less than a year. In September 2017, the BCCI had sold the worldwide IPL television and digital rights for the period 2018-22 for INR 16,347.5 cr (US$ 2.55 billion) to Star India.