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Breaking records is in cricket’s DNA. England recorded their highest international 50-over score ever with 498 against the Netherlands last Friday.

Off the field, as highlighted in last week’s column, the Board of Control for Cricket India’s $6.2 billion e-auction of media rights for the 2023-2027 cycle of the Indian Premier League broke its previous record of $2.6 billion more than doubled. Revenue is almost evenly split between TV and digital streams, a change from the 75:25 balance in the previous cycle.

Immediately following the BCCI auction is the International Cricket Council’s sale of media rights for its next cycle from 2024. It is hoping to break records.

A tender (ITT) was issued on 20 June relating only to the lucrative Indian market, with men’s and women’s crickets being sold separately. This differs from previous practice when combined men’s and women’s rights were sold around the world. Sealed bids must be submitted by August 22, with successful bidders being announced in September, along with details of their bids, but no others. After that, ITTs will be released for other markets.

Six packages are available, three each for men’s and women’s cricket, covering TV only, digital only or a combination of both. There are 16 men’s events available between 2024 and 2031, including four T20 World Cups, two 50-Over World Cups, four U19 World Cups and six Champions events. Bidders can choose between four- or eight-year partnerships.

This is not the case for the women’s tournaments, which include two T20 World Cups, two U19 T20 World Cups, one 50-Over World Cup and one T20 Masters Trophy. Although only a four-year option is available, the ICC has clarified that the highest bidder for the women’s events may not win the bid.

The focus is on how each bid seeks to promote women’s football in line with the ICC’s commitment to further accelerate its recent growth.

Controversially, the ICC chairman recently stated that he could not foresee that women’s Test cricket “is part of the landscape that is moving forward on a real scale”. This is emphasized by the fact that all games in the women’s bid packages are white ball games. However, asking bidders to be innovative suggests a lack of ideas or opportunism on the part of the ICC. The requirement may create nervousness about the criteria to be used within the ICC’s closed bidding system to determine winning submissions.

Concern also applies to the possibility of four-year and eight-year bids for men’s cricket. The next decade is likely to see changes in delivery technology, while changes in the balance of media consumption between television and digital are already emerging. If circumstances change significantly in the second four years, is there an opportunity to mitigate this risk?

The number of active internet users in India is forecast to grow from 560 million in 2017 to 900 million in 2025. In this changing landscape, the nature of bidder interest in cricket media rights is also changing. Names never previously associated with cricket expressed interest in the IPL bid process – Alphabet/Google, Apple and Amazon – but decided not to participate. In 2022, Viacom18 and Times Internet were again successful bidders, edging out Zee Enterprises and Sony, who had held the rights for 10 years before losing to Star in 2017.

The level of bids for IPL media rights has given the ICC great encouragement as it sees it as evidence of the media’s undiminished appetite to promote cricket and that higher values ​​are being achieved in this bidding round.

The Disney star holds the rights to the current consolidated deal, which is reportedly valued at just under $2 billion. It also retained the TV rights for the IPL. Given that commitment, it’s reasonable to assume Disney will be within ICC rights. However, it is worth noting that it chose not to bid for the digital rights of the IPL, concluding that the price was too high.

It is too early to know who else will bid and what strategies they will pursue given the close proximity of bidding to IPL’s e-auction. One concern is that a review of viewership patterns in the 2022 IPL showed a one-third drop in television viewership compared to 2021. Analysts have put forward a number of mitigating circumstances. One of them was that the previous edition in the UAE had only ended in October 2021, possibly causing viewer fatigue. Another reason was that with the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, viewers went to public places to watch the games together instead of staying at home.

Advertisers were so concerned that they demanded compensation. In any case, the decline did not negatively impact the returns generated from bidding for the next IPL cycle, quite the opposite.

What is being illustrated is that cricket, particularly in the Indian subcontinent, is now able to generate staggering amounts of money for the BCCI and in turn the ICC. It claims to have more than 1 billion fans watching ICC tournaments, around 70 percent in India.

Sirens are warning that cricket authorities have turned the game into a financial behemoth where T20 franchise cricket is thriving and crowding out the longer forms. This in turn reduces viewer choice as the admins are seemingly helpless to intervene but lucky enough to collect the money.

You could start by involving the current players and then draw attention to them. There is a Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations to coordinate and express the players’ opinions expressed by the national associations. Its relationship with the International Criminal Court can be strained, and notably, India has no connection.

It seems likely that players won’t complain because they’re being paid heavily, viewers and viewers will continue to pay to watch, and advertisers will continue to buy time in the space bought by media channels. This is currently a successful business model that is breaking financial records and does not tolerate any resistance.

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