ICC betting on all major broadcasters and digital service providers for bidding process

The International Cricket Council (ICC), which released the invitation to tender (ITT) for the media rights of its events – including the ICC Men’s World Cup and Champions Trophy, among others – for the Indian subcontinent on Monday, is betting on all the major broadcasters and digital service providers to actively participate in the bidding process.

Unlike the recently concluded Indian Premier League (IPL) media rights auctions by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), the ICC has not kept any reserve price, and will be inviting closed bids from the bidders by August-end.

“We are looking at the third week of August for the submissions to happen and we are setting ourselves the timeline of the first week of September to review the bids and formulate our recommendations and take it to our board for the final approval. There is a little bit of process involved and we’d like to try and get that done sometime by the second week of September,” said Anurag Dahiya, chief commercial officer, ICC.

In terms of expectations, he said the ICC is very comfortable with the packages it has put in front of the market.

“It’s a far better calendar that we will ever come to the market, where there is a very good regular occurrence of T20 World Cups and ODI World Cups, as well as the Champions Trophy coming back in the case of senior men’s events. For senior women, it’s a bigger calendar than ever before with annual events,” he said.

Sunil Manoharan, VP – Media Rights, ICC, said that what the ICC is bringing into the market, are a very different set of rights. “…this is the World Cup, national pride, and nobody else does that in cricket. This is the only package of this kind, it’s unique and very premium.”

Hinting at IPL auction, which fetched the BCCI Rs 48,390 crore for the next five years, a 200% jump over the previous cycle, Manoharan said that the ICC don’t have to say anything on its expectation from the auction.

“You’ve seen how the other premium products have done in cricket so that’s a good indication for everyone.”

The media rights for the next cycle of ICC events starting in 2024, will have up to six packages available across TV only, digital only or a combination of both. For the first time, men’s and women’s rights will be sold separately, and prospective partners can bid for 16 Men’s events (over eight years) and six Women’s events (over four years), totalling 362 and 103 matches respectively.

As reported earlier by ET, the ICC has also decided to allow interested parties to submit a bid for the first four years of men’s events, while giving them an option of bidding for an eight-year partnership.

Explaining the structuring of the rights, Geoff Allardice, chief executive, ICC, said that traditionally the ICC had done eight-year deals as the partners like the certainty that it provides them over an extended period. “A lot of the feedback from some of the market participants is that four years might be preferable, although, in recent conversations others have been looking for a longer term,” Allardice said. “Our main task is to structure the package in a way that tests the market and gives those potential bidders the option. With regards to unbundling women’s rights, I think it’s a natural progression for us. Over the last five years, women’s events have gained in profile, and we are keen to find out who’s going to help us accelerate the growth of the women’s game, with promotion, and we want to have a separate arrangement for that and for our men’s rights. So, there’s a couple of reasons why we’d be structuring differently.”

On not going for an e-auction, Dahiya explained, “We’re inviting sealed bids, which is a methodology we’ve employed in the past as well. This time, we have a complicated set of rights available. It’s not a straightforward, single territory, single duration, single or couple of packages of rights. We end up with several different combinations and to address all that through an e-auction is too complicated. Which is why we decided to remain with a sealed bid methodology. Sealed bids are known to work very well for various auctions, because ultimately you are motivating the bidders to put their best foot forward.”

Interestingly, the ICC has also not kept any base or reserve price for the bids.

“We did not set any base price because you would put a base price if you’re feeling diffident about where you might end up,” Dahiya said. “We don’t feel any necessity to put down a great base price. We want to keep a hands-off approach in terms of people coming to the numbers. We don’t want to anchor anything in their minds.”

After completing the process in India, the ICC wants to go to the other markets including UK, US, South Africa and thereafter Australia and New Zealand this year.