Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Indian cricket TV deal down Rs 800cr

MUMBAI: In the post-IPL environment, BCCI’s revenue from other cricket matches played in India is set to dip. Nimbus, which has again bagged the broadcast rights for cricket to be played in India over the next four years starting April 2010, is set to pay BCCI at least $187 million (Rs 800 crore) less than what it paid for the current deal.

Nimbus had bought the rights in 2005 for $612m (Rs 2,800 crore), but will pay $425m (Rs 2,000 crore) this time.

Nimbus was given the first right of refusal according to the contract signed in 2005, hence the renewed deal. By awarding Nimbus the contract, the board has ensured other players like ESPN-Star and Sony are not in contention.
The contract covers all domestic and international matches in India except IPL and the 2011 World Cup.

The BCCI is all set to give the TV rights to Nimbus for another four-year term starting April 2010. BCCI officials, though, wouldn’t comment on the renewed deal while Nimbus head Harish Thawani said, "It is premature and speculative to comment (on the intricacies of the deal) as of now."

It is learned that the BCCI has set a deadline of January 15, 2010 for Nimbus to pay around one-third of the total sum as guarantee money (Rs 600 crore) to seal the deal.

According to the new deal, it is learnt, Nimbus will have to pay BCCI Rs 31.5 crore for every international match (Test or ODI) to be played in India between 2010 to 2014.

Between 2005 and 2009, there were close to 16 Test matches and 52 ODIs which Nimbus could broadcast and until 2012 (after which a new Future Tours Program of the ICC comes in place) there are another seven Tests and 21 ODIs in the queue.

"The rights have been sold for a much lesser amount but that was expected. Today, IPL and newer events like Champions League have held spectator interest. All other ICC tournament rights are held by ESPN-Star (including the 2011 World Cup). No one wants to watch Ranji and Duleep trophies where the field is weak," said an industry insider.

A source said, "Looking at the pricing of the deal now, it is finally where Jagmohan Dalmiya, the then-BCCI president, had pegged it in 2004 before he was ousted."

The renewed contract will also allow Nimbus exclusive rights over Indian domestic tournaments including the Ranji, Duleep and Deodhar trophies, Challenger Series, the Mushtaq Ali Twenty20 Cup and the Corporate Trophy. BCCI, along with Nimbus, had tried to spice up the Indian domestic circuit a bit by introducing coloured clothing, day-night matches and live coverage to improve spectator interest, which had reached an all-time low.

However, in the last four years, tournaments like the Ranji and Duleep were still to find many takers. This, in turn, led to poor TRPs which affected Nimbus. There were delays in payments and stories about sponsors not paying in time did the rounds. Nimbus, in reply, argued that the board often didn’t honour the deal as far as exclusivity of events was concerned.

Against this backdrop, it is indeed surprising that the board has opted for Nimbus again. Lalit Modi, BCCI vice-president, wasn’t present at Tuesday’s all-important marketing committee meeting held in Mumbai.

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