Four major broadcasters concerned about transparency of ICC rights bid

Less than a week away from the date of submission of the bid for ICC’s broadcast rights in the largest market, major concerns remain among media companies in India, manifested by the absence of four major broadcasters from ‘mock auctions’ were organized by the ICC on Wednesday .

Disney Star*, Zee, Sony and Viacom, the companies that recently participated in the highly competitive e-auction for the IPL rights, did not attend training sessions organized by the ICC prior to the actual submission of the bids for the next cycle of ICC events. The sessions are intended to familiarize bidders with the platform on which bids are placed.

A number of bidders have completed or are scheduled to complete the sessions on Thursday and the ICC, for their part, expects the rest to offer slots in the coming days to do so.

Those who did not attend the sessions have raised concerns with the ICC about the transparency of the process of granting these rights, for ICC events from 2023 to 2031. ESPNcricinfo has been informed that all four broadcasters are uncomfortable with the fact that the bids are not accepted are made public, or even shared with those participating in the process.

The ICC has reserved the right to hold an e-auction in the event that the highest bids are close together or do not meet the ICC’s expectations – the broadcasters would not be satisfied with the opacity in this case of what would be considered close. They say it’s reasonable to know what margin of difference would trigger a second round of bidding.

Until recently, the ICC had ruled out an e-auction because their chief commercial officer Anurag Dahiya claimed that the way they unbundle their rights – for male and female events separately, for digital and TV, and for four- and eight-year packages – meant it would be too “complicated” for an e-auction of the kind the BCCI held for the IPL.

But ESPNcricinfo understands that if a second round of bidding is needed now, it will take place as an e-auction. Broadcasters also want more clarity from the ICC about how bids for a four-year package and an eight-year package will be judged against each other. Obviously, the ICC has an algorithm and a multiplier that produces the best benchmark figure to compare bids across different maturities and platforms. However, that mechanism is not public.

It is intended that the bids will be submitted no later than August 22, when the technical elements will be reviewed and due diligence will be carried out to ensure that they are all compliant with ICC requirements. The financial aspect of the offer is being held by an independent body and will not open until August 26. The ICC would not want a public opening in the event that the bidding is competitive and close enough that further rounds may be needed.

The ICC continues to work on clarifications with the bidders, but it is unlikely that any part of the bidding process will now change – as bidders have proposed different processes, it appears that changing it now favors one bidder over another, a situation that the ICC wants to avoid.

The game’s governing body sent its first invitation to tender (ITT) in June for its TV-only, digital-only, and both rights; women’s events rights are decoupled from men’s events and packages are available for four and eight years.

*Disney Star and ESPNcricinfo are part of the Walt Disney Company

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