Jay Shah believes that the recently concluded IPL Media Rights Auction has spurred interest in digital rights. © Getty
The IPL media rights deal has been the talk of the cricket world not only for the amount of revenue, Rs 48,390 crore that BCCI has earned, but also for its bundling and packaging. Jay Shah, the BCCI secretary and overseeing the process, tells Cricbuzz how the board has planned for it and how it will now spend it.
How do you watch IPL auction? What has been the biggest achievement from this entire auction experience?
There are many facets to media rights auction, but if you ask me to point out any one, it is the boom in digital. The number of digital has exceeded that of TV rights and this tells you that the cricket watching experience has made a big difference. Be it sports, entertainment, or even your daily news, the personal device is now taking precedence over the traditional medium.
Did the BCCI expect such a huge total amount while setting up the process?
Before releasing the ITT document, we conducted several studies and surveys and engaged professional agencies to guide us on the current market structure, its mood regarding the growth of IPL and its position globally. IPL is the biggest asset in world cricket and was one of the top 5 sports leagues in the world and everyone across the board expected a high amount which commands premium assets like IPL.
The per match count is coming in at Rs 118 crore, which is more than 136 per cent of the previous cycle count. This is becoming the largest per match value after the NFL. What do you attribute to this growth?
Several factors have contributed to the progressive development of IPL. The three biggest reasons are world class cricket on display and fan engagement. From the very first season, fans have rallied around the teams and loved the concept of this unique tournament. Its popularity has grown over the years and the board has removed all the stops to maintain the continuity of the IPL. When the BCCI organized the 13th and 14th season of the IPL despite the pandemic restrictions, the stakeholders accepted this huge operation. The confidence and confidence of our investors increased manifold. Sporting activities around the world had come to a halt but we still held two seasons in the UAE with a very safe bio-bubble. More than 30,000 RT-PCR tests were done, and our expenses almost doubled, but we still went ahead and conducted two sessions during a very difficult phase.
What was the logic behind introducing package C which proved to be a game-changer?
When the IPL began in 2008, digital rights were considered an offshoot; We are now in 2022 and India has witnessed a digital revolution. Digital content platforms have changed the landscape. As I mentioned in my tweet, the possibilities are endless in this area. The advent of 5G will take this to another level. We did a lot of thought before announcing the two sets of digital rights. Competition among OTT platforms is intense and the new category means more bidders may still be in the race even if they missed out on Package B, which is an exclusive right.
How do you feel about having two separate broadcast partners now? Is it beneficial to them, do they consider it beneficial to the audience?
The NFL is the largest sports league in the world and has five different broadcast partners. If you remember, we were close to having multiple broadcasters during the last cycle itself before Star’s consolidated bid outperformed others. Having multiple broadcast partners means the game will reach a wider pool of viewers and grow further. It is the duty of BCCI to promote the game within India and globally. This certainly benefits the audience as cricket-loving fans will now have greater access to IPL matches.
How do you see this auction and the price paid changing the global cricket market?
The IPL has set a marker for other cricket leagues, for the global market, and for major sports leagues in terms of broadcasting and the future of the game. There are instances where the group has bought ITT to understand the structure and gain insight into broadcast valuation. International cricket works very differently whereas IPL is a completely different tournament.
With so much investment, do you see the possibility of IPL expanding in terms of teams in future?
We have just got two new teams that have come into the IPL and both were amazing. While Gujarat Titans won the title, Lucknow Super Giants made it to the playoffs and were also the No. 1 team on several occasions during the league phase. It was a tough fight to reach the playoffs. In terms of teams, IPL’s expansion depends on several factors and for now, the league will consist of 10 teams.
The deal has been praised for its transparency, but was the e-auction difficult?
We were very clear that the process we will pursue should be completely transparent and that is why it was suggested that we go through the e-auction route. The bidders were only looking at the statistics on their screens. I am happy with the way it turned out. Initially there were difficulties but as I said we did our research before issuing ITT and we were confident that this method would give us optimum value.
Did you expect more participation from other global media platforms like Amazon and Google?
At the time of the auction, we had both Indian and global media companies showing interest in ITT. The game of cricket should keep growing and we have to reach as many fans as possible through different platforms. Our auction process and four packages were also designed in such a way that it would allow maximum participation of interested parties. As board secretary, it is not correct for me to talk about any particular platform and their strategy, but it is always better to have more bidders competing.
BCCI has indicated 84 or 94 matches. Is it possible to have one window for so many games?
We are in talks with our fellow member boards and the ICC about a bigger dedicated window for the IPL. The IPL is a major event on the annual cricket calendar, and it is now only behind the NFL. The quality of cricket that you see in IPL is world class with senior international stars coming and playing alongside their Indian counterparts. Not only the cricketers but some of the legends of the game are now turning to coaches in the IPL. It is a great platform and benefits everyone as the experience here is invaluable. The number of games will increase as we progress.