IPL set for blockbuster media rights deal for 2023-27 cycle

Bidding will be held via e-auction for the first time. Disney Star, Sony, Reliance are among the bidders in the fray

Nagraj Gollapudi
Fans watch an IPL game on a big screen in Delhi, April 7, 2018

The IPL broadcasting deal is set for a massive increment  •  Getty Images

Cricket is set to witness a blockbuster broadcasting deal this Sunday when the IPL puts on sale the media rights for the next five-year cycle, 2023-27. In 2017, the IPL rights were bought by Star India for US$ 2.55 billion, making it the biggest deal in cricket. Five years on, the IPL has grown into a ten-team tournament and its valuation has peaked massively. ESPNcricinfo looks at the nuts and bolts of the upcoming bidding process and how the e-auction will work - the early update, meanwhile, is that Amazon has become the first to pull out of the race.
When is the e-auction?
The IPL has decided to carry out the bidding for the first time via the e-auction. It is scheduled to start at 11am IST in Mumbai on Sunday, June 12. There is no end date and the IPL has kept the option open for the e-auction spilling over into the next day(s). The auction will carry on until the bids are exhausted.
What is the shelf life of the rights?
The rights cycle spans for five IPL seasons: from 2023 to 2027.
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 IPL followed in 2017, in an e-auction, potential companies file incremental bids till the other competitors drop out. The highest bidder left gets awarded the ownership of the rights.
How will the e-auction work?
The highest bids across categories will be flashed live simultaneously on screen. The potential bidders will need to file the highest amount they would want to pay (per match) for each package. The names of the bidders will not be revealed so as to ensure rivals cannot bump up prices.
How many packages are there?
There are four packages: A, B, C and D. Package A consists solely of TV rights for the Indian subcontinent only. Package B caters to digital rights only and exclusively for the Indian subcontinent. Package C contains digital rights for a special bouquet of matches, including the playoffs, for the Indian subcontinent only. Package D, which comprises rights for the Rest of the World for both TV and digital, is divided into two sub-categories: combined ROW or five individual regions.
What matches comprise Package C?
Package C comprises 'Special Package' matches. The number of matches in this package, the IPL has said, will vary depending on the total number of matches in the season. If the IPL comprises 74 matches (like IPL 2022), the Special Package will have 18 matches. If there are more than 74 matches in a season, then the Special Package matches will rise in steps of two for every additional 10 matches. So if there are 84 matches in a season, then the Special Package matches will be 20 and if the tournament has 94 games, then the Special Package will have 22 matches. The IPL has also pointed out that in case the season comprises less than 74 matches, the number of games in the Special Package will be determined proportionally.
This Special Package includes: the tournament opener, weekend evening matches, and the four playoffs, including the final. While the opening match and the playoffs will be mandatory, the IPL will determine the number and which of the evening matches from the double-headers will be included, based on the total number of games in a season.
How does the bidding process work?
Each of the four packages has a separate per match base price. Bidders will need to list their quote on a per match basis. Once the highest bid is determined for individual packages, the cumulative base price amount for five years will be calculated.
*What is the base price per match for each package? For Package A the per match base price is INR 49 crore (USD 6.3 million approx.). For Package B it is INR 33 crore (USD 4.2 million approx.) per match. For Package C it is INR 16 crore (USD 2.05 million approx.) per match. For Package D it is INR 3 crore (USD 390,000 approx.) per match. So the cumulative base price for Package A will be: 74 x 49 crore x 5 (seasons) = 18,130 crore (USD 2.33 billion approx). For Package B the base price will be INR 12,210 crore (USD 1.57 billion approx). For Package C the base price will be INR 1440 crore (USD 184.3 million) if the number of matches is 74 per season. For Package D it will be INR 1,110 crore (USD 142.8 million approx).
Will all packages go up for bidding simultaneously?
Bids for Packages A and B will be submitted together. Once the winning bids for both packages are determined, bids will be submitted simultaneously for C and D.
Can you bid for more than one package?
Yes, a bidder can contest for different packages. However, the winners of Packages A and B will have additional bidding advantages. The winner of Package A can enter into a bidding contest with the highest bidder for Package B (explained below) and the winner of Package B can similarly get into a bidding contest with the highest bidders for Packages C and D.
The IPL has given the incentive for winners of individual categories to match the winning bids for different packages. For example, the Package A winner will get the automatic choice to offer a bid more than the highest bid for Package B within a stipulated time. The winner of Package A and the highest bidder for Package B will then lock themselves into a contest until a winner is determined.
This will be followed by bidding for Package C. The winner of Package B will have the right to offer a bid more than the highest bid for Package C and both parties will then enter another contest by pitching incremental bids. Similarly, the winner of Package B can also tussle with the highest bidder for Package D.
Who are the major bidders?
All the major broadcasting giants, including Disney Star, Sony, Zee and Viacom are in the fray along with Reliance.
How much were the rights worth in the last cycle?
In 2017 Star India paid a record sum of INR 16,347.5 crore (US$ 2.55 billion approx. then) to bag the IPL rights for five years (2018-22). It was the biggest media rights deal in cricket and was 158% more than the amount paid for previous IPL rights cycle. Star had won the IPL rights on the basis of its global consolidated bid which was INR 528.5 crore (only 3.34%) more than the sum of all the highest bids for each category (INR 15,819.51 crore).
ESPNcricinfo and Disney Star are part of the Walt Disney Company. ESPNcricinfo has done independent reporting on this story.
*July 11, GMT 1430 This story was updated with new base price per match for each broadcast package

Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo