On April 3, the BCCI will sell the media rights for international bilateral cricket in India for the next five years (2018-23) through an e-auction. It will be the first time in sport that media rights will be sold via an online auction. Thus far, the BCCI had sold their rights through a closed-bid auction. But in an attempt for more transparency to the bidding process, an e-auction was decided as the best option by the BCCI's management led by chief executive officer Rahul Johri and the committee of administrators (CoA). The CoA was appointed last year by the Supreme Court of India to supervise the Indian board.

Incidentally, the e-auction was one of the recommendations from the Lodha Committee as one of the reforms the BCCI should employ while selling any media rights. Here's an FAQ on the e-auction process:

What is an e-auction?
In an e-auction, bids are filed by companies through an online portal. Unlike a close-bid auction process, which the BCCI followed till now, in an e-auction, potential companies file incremental bids till the competitors drop out. The highest bidder left gets awarded the ownership of the rights.

Why did the BCCI opt for an e-auction?

The main reason the CoA-led BCCI opted for the e-auction was to erase all doubts of possible rigging, something the closed-bid auction was vulnerable to according to many critics. They called the closed-bid auction defective because it had the potential to provide gains for vested interests where rival companies could ramp up the bids to help. An e-auction ensures more transparency, fairness and a competitive-price discovering model resulting in fetching the maximum price.

How many companies have entered the fray?

Six global companies have bought the bid document. They are: Star India, Sony Pictures Network India, Facebook, Google, Reliance Jio and Yupp TV. On April 3, the BCCI will evaluate the technical and financial feasibility of all six companies before the actual bidding process starts at 2pm IST.

What is the contract period for these rights??

The BCCI's bid-document was for home internationals for men and women as well domestic matches to be played in India between April 15, 2018 and March 31, 2023.

How many categories are there?

There are three categories on sale. First, the Indian television rights cum rest of the world digital rights (GTVRD). The second, digital rights for the Indian subcontinent (ID) alone, and thirdly, the global consolidated rights (GCR) comprising the television rights for the Indian subcontinent, rest of the world and the worldwide digital rights.

The reason behind dividing the rights into the three categories was, unlike the IPL where there is global interest, and during bilateral series, it narrows down to a limited territory restricted to the team playing India.

What is the base price for these categories?

There are two different base prices or per-match-values (PMV): one solely for the 2018-19 season and then for the rest of the four-year period. The reason for this split in pricing is because the ICC's new global FTP would start after the 2019 World Cup.

For the 2018-19 season, the the per-match-value for the GTVRD is INR 35 crore, INR 8 crore for ID and INR 43 crore for GCR. For the 2019-23 period, the per-match-value for the GTVRD package is priced at INR 33 crore, INR 7 crore for ID, and INR 40 crore for GCR.

What is the value of the incremental bids?

All three packages have different values for the incremental bids. For GTVRD, it will be INR 20 crore per bid whereas for ID it would INR 5 crore. The increment for GCRs would be INR 25 crore.

How will the e-auction work?

The highest bids across all three categories will be flashed live simultaneously on screen. The potential bidders will need to file the highest amount they would want to pay (per season) along with the break-up for the category they want to contest. The names of the bidders will not be revealed so as to ensure rivals cannot bump up prices.

How many international matches will the winner get to broadcast?

The BCCI has listed a total of 102 matches, which will form part of the ICC's Future Tours Programme (FTP) from June 2018 to March 2023. During this period India will host 22 Tests, 45 ODIs and 35 T20s against nine opponents barring Pakistan and Ireland.

The marquee series in this period will be the five-Test series against England in late 2021 and the four-Test series against Australia in early 2023.