At the end of day one of the Indian Premier League (IPL) media rights e-auction on Sunday, Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) had hit a century. The value per IPL match was worth INR 105 crores and rising, almost double the current INR 54.5 crores valuation.
An IPL game is now worth a record INR 105 crores (USD 13.44 million) making it - in terms of value per match - the second-most lucrative sporting product in the entire world, behind only the NFL (USD 35.07 million*). This figure may actually rise considering the e-auction for the T20 tournament's media rights, which began on Sunday, continues.
When bidding in the first IPL e-auction was halted on Sunday, BCCI were already richer by INR 43,050 crores. Bidding is on for two in the four bundles that matter the most—India TV rights and India digital rights. Participants have been told to bid for 410 matches in the 2023-27 cycle.
When bidding began at 11am, the collective base value of the two categories was INR 33,620 crores. The total incremental bidding over seven hours was worth INR 9,430 crores, according to BCCI sources. BCCI achieved most of the increase in value beforehand by doubling the base price. The valuation after Day 1 is 263% better than what Star paid BCCI (2018-'22). "It was a good day," IPL chairman Brijesh Patel said after the day's proceedings.
Rapid digital bidding
Of the INR 105 crores per match valuation, INR 48 crores came from digital rights, which suggests the uptick in digital interest is significantly higher than TV. The INR 57 crores match value for TV accounts for only a 15% gain over the base value while it is 37% for digital. If the trend continues, the digital figures leaving behind the TV in this rights cycle itself cannot be ruled out.
That would mark a tectonic shift in how media rights are sold in Indian cricket. BCCI had decided to keep the TV reserve price much higher than digital— INR 49 crores to INR 33 crores, expecting the shift from TV to digital viewership to be a gradual process.
It may not be accurate to project who would have the edge based on the current bidding. Any participant can pick up speed on Day 2 and swing the bid their way. As per sources, it is understood that all the leading players—Disney Star, Reliance Viacom 18, Sony, and Zee put in bids. Viacom 18's intent to announce themselves as a new player in sports broadcasting is well known. But how aggressively the incumbent Disney Star goes to defend its turf or Zee pushes to return to Indian cricket would be known only by Monday evening.
"Don't forget, if the winner of TV and digital are different and one party wants to go for everything, we would have another round of bidding between the two," a BCCI official said. "Then there's the non-exclusive bundle of matches to come. It could be a long auction."
It may or may not be prolonged. Participants have a night to re-strategise. Unlike the player auctions, there is no cap on spending. Strategic calls would be taken on how strongly to push on Day 2. BCCI officials appeared confident. IPL's position as a market leader would ensure media houses prioritise the league over every other property in cricket, and that would reflect in the bidding.