SONY PICTURES Network India (SPNI), previously known as Multi Screen Media Pvt Ltd (MSM), is looking to continue its lucrative relationship with the IPL once its original 10-year contract as official broadcaster of the T20 extravaganza comes to a close in 2017. SPNI CEO, NP Singh, in fact met Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) secretary Ajay Shirke and new CEO Rahul Johri on Wednesday morning, and submitted a written letter expressing his company’s interest in bidding again for the IPL’s TV rights.
SPNI has broadcasted the IPL on a number of its channels including Set Max, Sony Six and Sony ESPN since the inception of the league in 2008. In 2009, SPN — then known as MSM —had bought the broadcasting rights for USD 1.6 billion for the following nine editions. According to the BCCI’s rules and regulations, the company had to inform the board about their interest in retaining the rights post IPL 10 — which will take place next year — within 60 days of the final in 2016, which they have done.
While the previous TV rights had been signed for a period of 10 years, sources in the BCCI have revealed that the duration of the next contract is likely to be cut down to five years. “MSM has a right to refusal and it also has the right to match the offer. Over the next 60 days, the company will come up with a new offer. We are expecting the amount to be double of what it was in the last contract. We have conducted our own market research and if we are not convinced with the offer made by Sony, we will call for a fresh tender. And if any company bids higher than what Sony offers, then they will either have to match that price or the board will offer the new contract to the highest bidder,” a top BCCI official explained.
The TV rights for the IPL is among the most opulent of financial deals for the BCCI, and it’s no surprise that they will be interested in scoring a massive payoff next year. And in case Sony doesn’t pull out all stops, it’s likely that competitors like Star, who have held the rights for broadcasting ICC’s global events, will be hot on their heels. Only last week, chairing his first meeting as BCCI president, Anurag Thakur, had spoken about the IPL being the fastest growing league in the world.
And though the IPL has seen its fair share of controversies that have led to question marks being raised about the league—Pepsi withdrew as official sponsors a few months prior to IPL 9—it has remained an attractive venture for sponsors.
In a press statement recently, SPNI insisted that the last week of the IPL’s ninth edition had orchestrated a 22 per cent growth in terms of viewership. It stated that 347 million viewers had tuned in to watch the IPL, establishing it as the biggest television event in India. And it’s not surprising that Sony are keen on continuing to be the home of the IPL on television.