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IPL Invites Fresh Bids For Internet, Mobile Rights For 2011-2014; No Resellers

Udpate: According to Mint, World Sports Group, which earlier had the media rights, and had sublicensed them to other entities, has issued a statement saying that the BCCI tender “violates the undertaking the BCCI has given to the Supreme Court (of India)”, and that the Supreme Court had stayed the Bombay high court’s order allowing for arbitration as sought by WSG. Read the Bombay High Court judgement at IndiaKanoon.

March 8th 2011: So it’s official: the Global Cricket Ventures era of IPL Digital Rights appears to be over, and The Indian Premier League (IPL) has has issued a Tender notice inviting fresh bids for Global Internet & mobile rights along with certain television rights. They’ve invited bids from broadcasters, “Internet operators”, Mobile network operators, for four IPL seasons (2011 to 2014), starting with the 2011 season. Details of the Invitation to Tender document here.* Bids have to be submitted by Sunday, 20th March 2011.

What’s worth noting is that no agencies (resellers) may apply for the rights this time, though winning bidders can further sub-license rights. Bids are restricted to entities Sports broadcasters and Internet ventures in some cases, and only Mobile Operators in case of mobile streaming rights. The details:

Rights Being Sold & Bidder Criteria

– Worldwide Internet (with a 5 minute Delay in the Indian sub-continent)
– Worldwide Mobile (with a 5 minute delay in the Indian sub-continent).
– Worldwide TV with the exclusion of Indian sub-continent, Australia, South Africa, Middle East, the Caribbean, Hong Kong & Singapore
– Worldwide Radio with the exclusion of the Middle East (those are apparently with Channel 2)

Individual bidders or consortium may apply for only the following packages of bids: (a) All of the above rights
(b) All of the above except worldwide mobile rights and (c) Worldwide mobile rights only. Additionally, in case of (a) and (b) each bid must include an entity which is either a Cricket or Sports broadcaster in India, North America or UK, or has an Internet platform that meets ITT’s minimum criteria with respect to average monthly users and annual Internet Advertising Revenues. In case of (c), only Mobile Network Operators can apply.

Additionally, “agencies intending to resell the rights to another corporate entity are not eligible to participate in this tender. Successful bidders will have the rights to sub-license any rights that they do not wish to exploit themselves, subject to approval of the BCCI”

Quick take: Why Would An Internet Co Apply?

There’s one that is particularly odd: that if an Internet portal has to look to acquire online rights, it can only bid for options (a) All Rights or (b) All rights except worldwide mobile rights. It’s unlikely that any online portal will bid for TV broadcast rights, so this looks like a broadcasters only deal. Will a broadcaster (say, ESPN-STAR) be willing to sub-license online streaming to YouTube? I guess Multi-Screen-Media (Sony) might.

What Does An IPL Contract Look Like?

Typically, BCCI contracts are not in the public domain. However, if you’re planning to bid, you might like to take a look at the few old contracts that are public (although it’s likely possible that new contracts will not be similar). Below are contracts that were made public by Live Current Media, which had inked a $50 million deal for IPL’s official portal rights in 2008:

– BCCI-Live Current Media MOU (Dated April 16, 2008)
– BCCI-IPL-Live Current Media MOU (Dated April 16, 2008)
– Novation Agreement
– Mutual Termination Agreement

Just so you know, Live Current Media eventually had to exit Cricket. Global Cricket Ventures hasn’t fared particularly well either. Our take on the IPL digital rights are that they’re a heavy burden to bear: overpriced and that it’s incredibly difficult for a company that builds its business around rights acquisition to make money via online advertising and sustain (or even survive). Sure, YouTube has deep pockets, but most don’t.

*We’d have more details, but unfortunately, the invitation to tender document is itself priced at Rs. 200,000 (non-refundable). We wouldn’t mind a peek at the tender document, though – nikhil@medianama.com.

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