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The Indian Premier League, the country’s top cricket competition, is preparing to launch a women’s league as organizers look for ways to make the third most-watched sporting event bigger, more profitable and more diverse.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India is the governing body of the game and operates the popular male version of the IPL, the broadcasting rights of which will be fought by media giants including The Walt Disney Co. and Amazon.com Inc. The BCCI wants to auction off the broadcasting rights of the game to women only and its six league teams early next year, its head J Shah told Bloomberg News in an interview in Mumbai.
“Right now, there is a strong interest in media rights,” Shah said, adding that he was hopeful that the owners of the men’s IPL franchise would also bid for women’s league teams. She said the association wants to make women’s sport stronger because it is generally ignored in a cricket-crazy country of about 1.4 billion people.
Shah’s game plan to diversify is influenced by business savvy as he seeks more specialized ways to monetize the 15-year-old sports franchise. According to BCCI estimates, the IPL, valued at $ 7 billion, attracted 600 million spectators last year and is second only to the Premier League and the National Football League in terms of spectator numbers.
A heated competition in the men’s league broadcasting rights auction in June is expected to draw more than $ 5 billion in bids that could include Amazon Prime Video, Walt Disney, Sony Group Corporation and Reliance Industries Limited, led by Indian billionaire Mukesh. Ambani.
According to Utkarsh Sinha, managing director of Bexley Advisors in Mumbai, the popularity of the IPL will continue to grow as long as cricket continues to be played in India’s allies.
“The IPL is one of the most sticky media properties, and the heavyweights will drop it to get its media rights,” Sinha said. “This is probably the first format designed with global commercial and profit in mind.”
Niche layout
The BCCI is relying on the success of the auction to bankroll in a subsidiary format like the Women’s Cricket League. The IPL’s five-year fight for broadcasting rights points to a larger fight to win the eyeballs in the largest consumer market still open to foreign companies. Nevertheless, India has proved to be a tough choice for Netflix Inc. as well.
Amazon announced its intention to add live sports to its platform in India, including cricket, at the end of April, when Reliance-controlled Viacom18 Media received $ 1.8 billion in funding from a James Murdoch-backed firm as it prepared for a bidding war.
Demand for the IPL is so high right now that the BCCI has raised the base price to দর 4.2 billion. It also managed to sell all sponsorship slots for the 2022 match to Tata Group for the first time with supporters, including Saudi Arabian Oil Co., according to Shah.
The online auction format of the men’s league is a new approach for the BCCI and shows Shah’s efforts to modernize the functioning style of the 94-year-old cricket body. Bidders can also pitch only for live-streaming rights or TV broadcasting rights. Previously, the BCCI sold these rights as a bundle in a closed bidding process.
“After assessing the growing interest in the game, it was decided to double the reserve price for media rights,” Shah said. “We have decided to go to an e-auction this year to make the process transparent and ensure maximum participation.”
Long window
The Board of Control for Cricket in India, which accounts for about 80% of global sports revenue, has been working with the International Cricket Council to extend the IPL season window from the current two months on the sporting calendar. A longer window means more matches and higher revenue.
A portion of the money raised from the franchise is spent by the board on state-level cricket associations, building infrastructure for the sport and other expenses, including players’ pensions and fees.
Shah said online streaming would soon surpass broadcasting, and he ruled out the possibility of viewer fatigue – one of the biggest risks for any sporting event. Online streaming accounts for only 30% of the game’s viewership, but it is in a strong position after epidemic restrictions and lockdowns forced people to view more content on the Internet.
Shah is confident the upcoming auction will be a money spinner.
“The game will be a strong four-way battle for media rights,” he said, referring to Amazon, Viacom18 Media, Disney, and Sony. “The more money we raise, the better for cricket because we will invest it all.”

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