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Discovery may bid for IPL media rights

LiveMint logoLiveMint 19-07-2017 Vidhi Choudhary

New Delhi: American broadcaster Discovery Communications on Wednesday said it is interested in bidding for media rights to the Indian Premier League (IPL) which reopens on 21 July.

Both the television and digital media rights of IPL, the premier T20 cricket tournament, will be up for grabs for a five-year period from 2018 to 2022.

“We are interested in buying the bid documents for IPL and will evaluate as necessary,” said a Discovery India spokesperson.

In February, the company launched a new sports channel in India called DSPORT, in a bid to widen its portfolio and expand its reach.

The broadcaster plans to offer around 4,000 hours of live sporting content annually, and will air international sports properties ranging from horse racing to football on the channel.

As of now, DSPORT has acquired the rights to Brazilian, Chinese and Portuguese football leagues, along with Major League Soccer (US), and will offer live racing from the UK and Irish tracks.

In golf, it will air British Open (The Open Championship), US Open, PGA Championship and LPGA. Additionally, Discovery has also acquired rugby and cycling properties.

Discovery has 11 channels in India, including Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Discovery Science, Discovery Turbo and Discovery Kids.

The invitation to tender for IPL will open on 21 July and the last date for buying bid documents is 24 August, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) said earlier this week. The bidding process will close on 28 August and results will be announced the same day.

On Tuesday, Sony Pictures Networks (SPN) said it will make an aggressive bid for the upcoming auction. “In 2008, when we acquired the IPL rights there were no takers. There were no believers. We...worked really hard over the last ten years to make it a very successful franchise... We will make an aggressive bid to retain the rights both for television and digital,” said SPN chief executive N.P. Singh.

In September last year, BCCI first invited bids to award media rights for IPL for 2018 and beyond. However, the process was indefinitely postponed since the Supreme Court-appointed Lodha panel had not responded to BCCI’s queries regarding the tenders.

Key prospective bidders for digital and TV rights at the time included Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd, Star India Pvt. Ltd, Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd, Sony Pictures Networks India Pvt. Ltd, WPP Group’s media buying agency GroupM, Bennett Coleman & Co. Ltd’s digital media arm Times Internet Ltd, online marketplace Amazon India and social media firms Facebook and Twitter.

BCCI clarified that companies that had earlier purchased the bidding documents for the IPL media rights tender scheduled to be held on 25 October 2016 will be given the latest tender documents on their release on 21 July without any additional cost or charges.

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