Nimbus awarded rights for India-South Africa ODIs

Nimbus, the Indian production company, has secured the rights for India's offshore series against South Africa in Ireland in June. The series was under threat yesterday when the BCCI's deal with Zee Sports fell through, but Nimbus have stepped in to alleviate Ireland's fear of the whole tournament being cancelled.

Nimbus agreed to pay US$24.20 million for the series and, according to Lalit Modi, the BCCI vice-president, bagged the rights after Zee failed to pay the stipulated amount by the deadline of May 28.

"Nimbus have agreed to pay US$6.05 million per match for the four matches in Ireland [against South Africa on June 26, 29 and July 1] and Scotland [against Pakistan on July 3]," said Modi. "We have terminated the contract through a letter sent to Zee today."

According to Ashish Kaul, Zee's senior vice-president, his company had pulled out of the deal because they were not given the same discount offered to Nimbus for telecasting the matches held in India, after the broadcasters were forced to share the feed with public broadcaster Doordarshan. But Modi denied this claim.

"Zee were offered the same discount as Nimbus but it was not agreeable to them," said Modi. If Doordarshan, with whom all broadcasters have to share their feeds, does not encrypt its signals, Nimbus will be given a discount of Rs 257 crore from their overall deal of US$612 million with the BCCI to telecast all cricket played in India till March 2010.

"We recognise the problems faced by broadcasters over the non-encryption of Direct to Home (DTH) signals by Doordarshan and have come to an amicable settlement with Nimbus," added Modi. "We have held many meetings with both Nimbus and Zee over the issue." After Zee's pull-out the BCCI held talks with ESPN Star Sports, Ten Sports and Nimbus who were the only ones who accepted the board's offer.

Modi also disagreed with Zee's views that the BCCI kept the broadcasters in the dark about offshore ventures and said, as per the agreement, the telecasters were told about future offshore ties six months in advance.

Harish Thawani, Nimbus's chief, expressed satisfaction with the four-match deal and said they would be interested in televising further offshore matches organised by the BCCI. "We have come to an amicable amount and we are happy that the BCCI have quantified our losses and compensated us," said Thawani. "Cricket has to go on. One or two technical matters have also been dealt with."

Thawani added that the matches would not necessarily be shown on Nimbus's Neo Sports channel but there was a possibility of it being syndicated to six other channels, including regional ones, as was done with the Bangladesh series.

These developments come 24 hours after Nimbus pulled out of broadcasting the Afro-Asian Cup beginning in India on June 5. They cited the absence of several big stars in the Asian XI as the reason for pulling the plug. However, the series will take place as planned after the Asian Cricket Council struck a last-minute deal with ESPN-Star.