Reliance group secures BCCI media rights, emerges as cricket broadcasting powerhouse

01 Sep 2023


Over the next five years, Indian cricket will find a new broadcasting home on the Viacom 18 network. In an e-auction held on Thursday, 31 August 2023, the media conglomerate, a subsidiary of Reliance Industries, successfully secured both the linear and digital rights from the BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India).

As a result, all bilateral games involving India, whether played within the country, or domestic cricket matches, will now exclusively air on Viacom 18. The network already holds the digital rights for the Indian Premier League (IPL), one of the world’s most lucrative cricket tournaments, and is the exclusive broadcaster for the Women’s Premier League (WPL).
Viacom 18 outbid competitors Disney Star and Sony, acquiring these rights for a sum of approximate Rs.5,963 crore. This total was divided into Rs.3,101 crore for the digital platform and Rs.2,862 crore for linear telecasts.
This latest deal elevates the per-match value of international cricket games during this cycle to Rs 67.75 crore, up from the Rs 60 crore that Star India had paid to the BCCI in the previous cycle, which featured more matches (102 compared to 88 in this cycle). While some had expected the winning bid per match to reach around Rs 85 crore, it ultimately settled at a lower but still substantial amount, marking an 11 percent increase from the previous cycle.
BCCI secretary Jay Shah expressed his delight at this development, emphasizing the remarkable growth of the brand BCCI and the organization’s significant step towards higher per-match media rights valuation.

In the previous year, Viacom 18 had secured digital rights for the IPL for a staggering Rs 26,000 crore. The lower valuation of international cricket matches in India until March 31, 2028, in comparison to an IPL fixture (approximately Rs 118 crore), highlights the preference of broadcasters and bidders for franchise leagues over international cricket. This preference is due, in part, to the limited appeal of bilateral series against teams other than marquee opponents like England and Australia.

The disparity in valuation can also be attributed to the IPL’s shorter duration and favorable match timings. Viacom 18 has now emerged as a dominant player in Indian cricket broadcasting, especially with the transformative influence of the Jio network in the digital sports broadcasting landscape.
The broadcasting agreement encompasses 25 Tests, 27 ODIs, and 36 T20Is (Twenty20 Internationals). The bidding process was divided into two categories: TV rights for the Indian subcontinent only (with a base price of Rs 20 crore) and digital rights for the Indian subcontinent combined with TV and digital rights for the rest of the world (with a base price of Rs 25 crore).
This development marks another significant investment by Viacom 18 in Indian cricket, building upon their previous acquisitions of media rights in various regions and for different tournaments. It underscores India’s growing influence and commercial appeal in the world of cricket, with tours by the Indian team serving as a major source of income for cricket boards worldwide. Notably, many ICC sponsors are Indian companies or have a significant presence in the Indian market, reflecting the enduring popularity of Indian cricket.
As a side note, the substantial revenue generated by the BCCI from the sale of its media rights may explain the organization’s focus on financial gains over improving the fan experience, including ticket sales and stadium facilities.

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