Women’s IPL: the next important step for the BCCI? | Cricket News


The Indian Premier League, the country’s top cricket competition, is preparing to launch a women’s league as organizers seek ways to make the third most-watched sporting event bigger, more profitable and diverse.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India is the sport’s governing body and runs the hugely popular men’s edition of IPL, whose broadcast rights are expected to be contested by media giants including The Walt Disney Co. and Amazon. com Inc. BCCI wants to auction the rights to broadcast women’s matches and its six championship teams by early next year, its chief Jay Shah told Bloomberg News in an interview in Mumbai. .
“At the moment there is a lot of interest in media rights,” Shah said, adding that he hoped men’s IPL franchise owners would also bid for women’s teams in the league. The association, he said, wants to strengthen the women’s game as it is generally overlooked in the otherwise cricket-mad nation of nearly 1.4 billion people.
Shah’s game plan to bolster diversity is also underpinned by business acumen as he seeks more niche ways to monetize the 15-year-old sports franchise. IPL, estimated at $7 billion, drew 600 million viewers last year and trails only the Premier League and National Football League in viewership, according to BCCI estimates.
A men’s league broadcast rights auction in June is expected to draw bids of more than $5 billion in a heated competition that could include Amazon Prime Video, Walt Disney, Sony Group Corp. and Reliance Industries Ltd., run by Indian billionaire Mukesh. Ambani.
As long as cricket continues to be played in India’s allies, IPL’s popularity will continue to rise, according to Utkarsh Sinha, Managing Director of Bexley Advisors in Mumbai.
“IPL is one of the stickiest media properties available, and heavyweights will go after it for the media rights,” Sinha said. “It’s probably the first format designed globally with ads and profit in mind.”
Niche sizes
BCCI is building on the auction’s success to fund subsidiary formats like the women’s cricket league. IPL’s five-year broadcast rights fight underscores the wider struggle to win eyeballs in the biggest consumer market still open to foreign companies. Still, India has proven tough to crack, even for Netflix Inc.
Amazon announced plans to add live sports to its platform in India, including cricket in late April, while Reliance-controlled Viacom18 Media received $1.8 billion in funding from a company backed by James Murdoch as it prepares for the bidding battle.
Demand for IPL is currently so strong that BCCI has raised the base price above which offers will be accepted to $4.2 billion. He also succeeded for the first time in selling all sponsorship slots for 2022 matches with backers including Saudi Arabian Oil Co to the Tata Group, according to Shah.
The online bidding format for the men’s league is a new approach for BCCI and shows Shah’s attempts to modernize the style of operation of the 94-year-old cricketing body. Bidders can also offer only live broadcast rights or TV broadcast rights. Previously, BCCI had sold these rights through a closed bidding process.
“The decision was made to double the media rights reserve price after assessing the growing interest in the game,” Shah said. “We have also decided to go with an online auction this year to make the process transparent and ensure maximum participation.”
longer window
The cricket regulator for India, which accounts for around 80% of the sport’s global revenue, is working with the International Cricket Council to increase the IPL season window from the current two months of the sporting calendar. A longer window will mean more matches and higher earnings.
A portion of the board’s share of the money raised through the franchise is spent on state-level cricket associations, setting up sports infrastructure and other expenses, including including pensions and fees for players.
Shah said online streaming will soon overtake broadcast, and he dismissed the prospect of viewer fatigue – one of the biggest risks to any sporting event. Online streaming accounts for just 30% of the game’s viewership, but it’s on a solid footing after pandemic restrictions and lockdowns forced people to watch more content on the internet.
Shah is confident that the upcoming auctions will be a source of money.
“There will be a strong four-way battle for the media rights to the game,” he said, referring to Amazon, Viacom18 Media, Disney, Sony. “The more money we raise the better it is for cricket because we will reinvest it all.”

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