The richest cricket league in the world just got a whole lot richer. The IPL’s blockbuster media rights auction will raise a potential INR 48,390.5 crore (about US$6.2 billion) over the next five years, making the league one of the richest in sports.
Disney Star* has retained the TV rights in the subcontinent for INR 23,575 crore (approximately US$3 billion), while Viacom 18 has secured the digital rights in the same region and media rights (both TV and digital) in three global regions – Australia + New Zealand, UK and South Africa – for INR 23,758 crore (about $3 billion). Media rights for two other global regions – the Middle East (INR 205 crore/US$26.27 million approximately) and the US (INR 258 crore/US$33.06 million approximately) – will go to Times Internet.
Breaking down further, Disney Star will pay INR 57.5 crore (approximately $7.36 million) per match, while Viacom 18, which won the subcontinental digital rights for all matches at Rs 50 crore (approximately $6.40 million) per match, then committing an additional INR 33.24 crore (approximately US$4.26 million) per match for a non-exclusive package of high profile games (ranging between 18 and 22 matches), will in fact be slightly more than INR 58 crore (US$) pay approximately 7.43 million) per match. Add in the global numbers and the IPL is now only behind the NFL in value per game.
The total deal for the 2023-27 cycle is 2.96 times or 196% higher than the previous IPL rights deal (2018-22) of INR 16,347.5 crore (about $2.55 billion at the time). The previous cycle included 60 games per season over five years. For the new five-year cycle, the IPL has listed a varying number of games per season, ranging from 74 games each in 2023 and ’24, 84 games each in 2025 and ’26, and a maximum of 94 games for the final year of the season. agreement in 2027.
The rights were sold through an e-auction, which began on Sunday, June 12. The rights were sold in four categories: A (TV rights in the Indian subcontinent), B (digital rights in the subcontinent), C (digital rights in India to a special package of high-profile games – including the play-offs and the final – ranging between 18 and 22 per season) and D (global media rights in five separate regions).
Aside from the obvious windfall for the BCCI, the blockbuster deal will provide a huge cash bonanza for the IPL franchises, whose share of central revenue will rise to nearly INR 500 crore each.
In this rights cycle, digital rights have exceeded the value of TV and have been the main driver of growth in the value of the IPL rights. The winning bid for the digital rights in the subcontinent alone was 13% higher than the total bid made by Star India to win the global consolidated rights [TV and digital] in 2017. The importance and meteoric rise of the digital footprint in the Indian market can be measured by the fact that in 2017 the highest bid for the digital rights was INR 3900 crore (about $0.61 billion), by Facebook. [Despite that high bid, Star had pipped Facebook to the digital rights with its consolidated offer.]
The highest bid for the TV rights in the subcontinent was 17.3% higher than the base price per game of INR 49 crore (about $6.3 million) set by the IPL for it. The corresponding number for digital rights in the region saw a massive jump of 51.5% above the base price per match of INR 33 crore (about US$4.2 million). Package C – digital rights in India to select high profile games – increased from a base price of INR 16 crore (about US$2.05 million) per game to INR 33.24 crore (about US$4.26 million), an increase of almost 108%.
BCCI Secretary Jay Shah said the trends reflected the transition to digital viewers. “There were about 560 million digital viewers in 2017 and 665 million in 2021. You expect it to grow even more in the coming years,” he told PTI. “By 2024 there will be 900 million internet users in India. Obviously linear viewership (TV) will remain, but there is a transition to digital viewership and that’s how you realize the value.”
Rebecca Campbell, President – International Content and Operations at the Walt Disney Company, said of Disney Star’s focus on television rights rather than digital: “We have made disciplined bids with a focus on long-term value. We have chosen to not to proceed with the digital rights given the price necessary to secure that package.
“We will be exploring other multiplatform cricket rights, including future rights to ICC and BCCI, which we currently hold through the 2023 and 2024 seasons, respectively.”
†ESPNcricinfo and Disney Star are part of the Walt Disney Company.
Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo