India's cricket governing body BCCI, is seeking to attract global giants Amazon and Alphabet Inc. to participate in a media rights auction for the team's games.
This comes as interest from other firms, who had previously fiercely competed for the successful Indian Premier League (IPL), has diminished.
The auction process for the media rights of the bilateral series, where the Indian team plays against other countries, has been delayed by at least two weeks.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is reaching out to more firms in an attempt to generate interest in the auction.
The lackluster response from media firms, prior to the auction, highlights the challenges of making money in the face of weak advertising revenues. The shorter-format IPL has been the top cricket property, attracting higher viewership over the years.
The sale process is running two weeks behind schedule, as suggested by its advisor, Ernst & Young (EY), who had anticipated completing the auctions by the end of August.
According to a report, EY expects the sale of rights to 102 matches to generate at least $750 million, roughly the same price as the previous sale five years ago.
In contrast, the rights to the IPL, which were auctioned last year, saw a nearly threefold increase from the previous offering.
The IPL continues to be one of the most popular sporting events in the world, attracting a large audience. Last year, the BCCI successfully auctioned the media rights for the IPL, raising record amounts of money.
Viacom 18 Media Ltd controlled by billionaire Mukesh Ambani, and Walt Disney Co outbid competitors such as Sony Group Corp.
In the 2023 edition of the IPL, Ambani's JioCinema offered the matches online for free. This move affected Disney's ability to generate profits, as their advertisement revenues were weak.
According to sources, Viacom 18 is planning to aggressively bid for the digital media rights to the bilateral series. On the other hand, Disney is currently implementing cost reduction measures globally and may adopt a more cautious approach.
Representatives from BCCI, Disney, and EY have declined to comment on the matter. Emails seeking comments from spokespersons of Viacom 18, Amazon, and Alphabet have not received a response.
Star India, which became a Disney unit in 2019, purchased the rights for the bilateral series for a period of five years starting from 2018, paying a hefty sum of Rs 61 billion ($741 million).
Unfortunately, the company has incurred losses of around Rs 10 billion from this investment.
The decision on whether to separate the media rights into digital and linear platforms and conduct an e-auction for the upcoming series is still pending.
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