The recently concluded media rights auction of the cash-rich Indian Premier League (IPL) for the 2023-27 cycle saw Star India retaining the Indian sub-continent TV rights by paying Rs 23,575 crore while Reliance backed Viacom18 bagged the digital rights for Rs 20,500 crore.
Although Sony Sports Network, one of the most prominent bidders of the auction, may had missed to acquire even one of the four rights package which were on offer in the e-auction, the network already has enough cricketing properties in its kitty.
Talking of the recent times, the network has the Indian women’s team touring England and an enviable bilateral men’s cricket calendar featuring England vs New Zealand, Australia vs South Africa, Sri Lanka vs Australia, England vs South Africa, Australia vs England, and more, as well as popular T20I tournaments like the Big Bash League, Pakistan Super League, Women’s Big Bash League and even more.
Sony also has the exclusive media rights from the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) for the Indian subcontinent for a period of five years, which started in 2018. In an agreement signed with the ECB for the Indian subcontinent, Sony Pictures Networks acquired the rights to both televise and digitally broadcast within the Indian subcontinent, all men’s and women’s international matches, including test matches, T20 internationals and ODIs played in England.
Prior to its deal with the ECB, it had also acquired the exclusive media rights for all men’s international matches played in Australia, starting from 2017 to 2023.
Earlier in 2017, Sony had bagged the rights to broadcast all men’s and women’s international cricket played in Australia into India and the subcontinent on a six-year deal, which will end in 2023.
Significantly, Sony holds the Indian broadcast rights for international cricket played in Australia, South Africa, the UAE, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe and the West Indies while Star India was the previous holder of Cricket Australia’s broadcast rights for the Indian market.
Notably, Sony had earlier too, missed an opportunity in acquiring the media rights of the cash-rich IPL in 2017 however, after its deal with the ECB and the Cricket Australia (CA) and with various other boards, it can be cleary seen that the broadcaster strategy is to focus on international cricket and other sports like football, WWE, golf and tennis.
Moreover, Sony once again has the opportunity to bag another big property in its kitty as now, the ICC has also decided to release its first Invitation To Tender (ITT) for media rights for the next cycle on Monday (June 20). The first ITT will be for the Indian market only, with up to six packages available across TV only, digital only or a combination of both.
The special feature of the ICC rights is that for the first time ever, men’s and women’s rights will be sold separately, and prospective partners can bid for 16 Men’s events (over 8 years) and six Women’s events (over 4 years), totalling 362 and 103 matches respectively.
According to ICC, the interested parties will be required to submit a bid for the first four years of men’s events. However, they also have the option of bidding for an eight-year partnership.
Recently, Sony had announced that even after missing the IPL media rights, it will still broadcast over 1800 hours of cricket this year including India’s tour of England as well as popular T20I tournaments like the Big Bash League, Pakistan Super League, Women’s Big Bash League and more.