Such a huge game changer for women's cricket world wide!— Shikha Pandey (@shikhashauny) January 17, 2023
Those young little girls wanting to take up the sport can dream big.
Also, it's time for all the cricketers at domestic circuit who've been toiling hard, to reap the benefits of continued hard work. #WIPL @BCCIWomen https://t.co/RFgUDrAUUC
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Viacom 18 has won the media rights for the inaugural women's IPL for a period of five years following the auction in Mumbai. The company will pay INR 951 crore (USD 116.7 million approx.) for the period - 2023 to 2027 - which BCCI secretary Jay Shah called "massive" while making the announcement on Twitter.
ESPNcricinfo has learned that only two of the eight parties that had bought the tender had turned up for the auction: Viacom 18 and Disney Star*. The winning bid was for both linear TV and digital and were sold globally, including India.
Shah said the winning bid amount meant a per-match value of INR 7.09 crore (USD 866,000 approx.) over five years. The men's IPL, in comparison, fetched a five-year deal of INR 48,390.5 crore (USD 6.2 billion approx. at the time) in June last year with a per-match value of INR 58 crore (USD 7.43 million approx.).
"After pay equity, today's bidding for media rights for Women's IPL marks another historic mandate," Shah said on Twitter. "It's a big and decisive step for empowerment of women's cricket in India, which will ensure participation of women from all ages. A new dawn indeed!"
Shah further said the deal would "revolutionise women's cricket" globally. "I am really thrilled that we have had such an encouraging response for a league that will revolutionise women's cricket not just in India but across the globe," he said in statement. "This is a commitment I had made to the board and our women cricketers and today we have taken one big leap. The broadcasters play a key role in taking the game to a wider audience and their active interest in the league is a clear indication that the Women's Indian Premier League is headed in the right direction."
The per-match value of INR 7.09 crore was calculated for 22 matches per season across the first three years, followed by a possible increase to 34 matches from 2026 when the BCCI, based on the performance of the women's IPL, could look at adding a sixth franchise.
"Women's cricket has been on the up since a few years and the recently concluded bilateral series against Australia is a great testament to how popular women's cricket has become in India," BCCI president Roger Binny said in a release. "It was only apt to get our own women's T20 league and give the fans more of women's cricket."
The two major differences between the sale of the men's and the women's media rights were that the women's rights did not have a base price unlike the men's, and that the men's rights were split across multiple categories and regions in an auction process that spanned three days.
The inaugural women's IPL is expected to have five teams, which will get 80% of the central commercial pool, of which the media rights constitutes a major part.
The BCCI has shortlisted a pool of ten cities from across India and the five teams will be associated with a city each.
ESPNcricinfo had earlier reported that the owners of men's IPL teams Chennai Super Kings, Kolkata Knight Riders, Rajasthan Royals, Sunrisers Hyderabad, Punjab Kings, Delhi Capitals and Gujarat Titans were among those to have submitted bids for a team in the women's IPL. The BCCI has set January 23 as the deadline to submit the technical bids for evaluation. As compared to the media rights, the rights to own teams would be for a ten-year period (2023-32).
The five winners will be announced on January 25. The bids from the groups hoping to own teams are currently with the BCCI, in sealed envelopes.
Though official dates are not out yet, it is understood that the first season of the women's IPL will run from March 5 to 23 - before the men's edition starts. The first three seasons (2023-25) are set to have 22 matches each. Each of the five teams will play the other twice (a total of 20 matches) in the league stage, followed by an Eliminator between the teams that finish second and third, and then a final between the winner of the Eliminator and the table-topper. From the 2026 season, the WIPL will feature 33 or 34 matches.
Viacom 18 had also secured the digital rights of the men's IPL for the subcontinent region (for INR 23,757.5 crore or USD 3.04 billion) and both the TV and digital rights across three global regions - Australia + New Zealand, the UK and South Africa - (for INR 1058 crore or USD 135.49 million) last June.
*ESPNcricinfo and Disney Star are part of the Walt Disney Company