Attracting astronomical bids that eventually translated into mind-boggling revenue of Rs 48,390 crore for a five year period through IPL’s media rights has not surprised BCCI secretary Jay Shah, who asserted that cricket’s most talked about T20 league has potential to deliver way more.
In an exclusive interview, the 33-year-old Shah said, “I am really happy with the kind of numbers that we have achieved. This shows the phenomenal growth potential of Indian cricket. The auction was always going to be exciting for every stakeholder. We have been able to realise the true value and the numbers in-front of you, is a testimony to that.”
“These numbers show the potential of the Indian economy and the faith of investors in new India. The digital India push has changed the way cricket is watched in India. So the bid outcome of digital rights bears testimony to that.”
Were there any apprehensions in the BCCI when it was decided to scale up the cumulative base price of media rights in excess of Rs 32,500 crore when the winning bid during the last media rights auction was almost half (16,347.50 crore) of it ?
Shah said, the BCCI never felt that the base price was too high. “You need to understand that in 2018, it was for 60 games. For the next cycle, we will have 410 games, with 74 games each in the first two seasons and then 84 games in the next and finally 94 in the 2027 edition.”
Sportstar and The Hindu Businessline dissects the IPL media rights auction, the big winners, BCCI’s windfall and what this means for the game in the country.
“You also need to check the digital numbers — there were approximately 560 million digital viewers in 2017 and 665 million in 2021. You expect it to grow even more in the coming years. We have agencies conducting research for us. By 2024, there will be 900 million internet users in India as we would be providers of second-cheapest data in the world. Obviously linear viewership (TV) will remain but there is a transition towards digital viewership and that’s how you realise the value…”
With 94 matches set to be played in the future, how does the BCCI plan to manage the window and various international teams having their own FTP commitments?
“That is an aspect we have worked upon. Let me inform you that from the next ICC FTP calendar, IPL will have an official two-and-a-half month window so that all the top international cricketers can participate. We have had discussions with various boards as well as the ICC,” Shah said.
When Amazon pulled out, there were talks that they were not happy with Package C which offered only 18 games per season for non-exclusive digital rights.
“BCCI’s aim was simple. Our motto was maximum participation, maximum value and better price discovery. So if someone is winning A and B, they need to shell out more for buying Package C. It is as simple as that,” Shah said.
“This is called better price discovery. I think the manner in which we pulled off the e-auction was the most transparent one.”
There is speculation that IPL may be held in two phases. Where does the BCCI stand on that aspect and how do you plan to implement that?
“We are having discussions with various stake-holders. There are also multiple proposals for all the IPL franchises of playing friendlies overseas. That idea is being seriously contemplated but for that we also need to speak to other boards as we would need to know the schedule of international players.”
There are reports that IPL’s viewership has dropped by 30 percent this time. The viewers fatigue due to too many matches is also being discussed. Also, the the recall value of games has been talked about this year.
Shah said, “I don’t agree that there has been a viewership dip. You have to factor in pre-COVID and post-COVID numbers. The 2020 and 2021 IPL viewership numbers skyrocketed because cricket was the only source of live sporting entertainment for the Indian public. People were unable to venture out due to COVID-19. So the figures saw a sharp rise.
“Now in 2022, the same public after the return of a certain amount of normalcy is venturing out. People are socialising, going out for dinners, taking vacations which they didn’t do in the last two years. Also, when you calculate viewership, this year, during evening games, you would have hundreds watching it on TV while sitting in a pub or a restaurant.
So there are hundreds of fans watching an IPL match on one DTH (Direct To Home) connection. Therefore, if you calculate viewership numbers, I would want you to calculate on the basis of 2019 viewership numbers vis-a-vis 2022,” he said.