Amazon is planning to withdraw its bid for the most-awaited auction for the digital and broadcasting rights for the Indian Premiere League (IPL) that will take place on June 12, Bloomberg reported citing sources. According to the report, the consideration to pull out is made as the bid doesn’t align with the business sense of the company, which has already invested $6.6 billion in India.
Notably, since mid-2021 Amazon has been aggressively planning to acquire the digital rights for IPL through its OTT platform Amazon Prime. The e-commerce giant already has broadcasting rights for UEFA Champions League and Thursday Night Football in the US at $1 billion a season until 2033.
IPL, which has a viewership of 600 million, is the most-lucrative sports tournament in the country valued at $6.6 billion. Currently, Star India holds the media rights for IPL through its TV platform Star Sports and OTT space Disney+Hotstar. Star India currently has the five-year IPL broadcasting rights worth $2.5 billion till 2022, as well as the eight-year ICC broadcasting rights worth $1.8 to $1.9 billion till 2023.
If Amazon pulls out, Reliance Industries will be the frontrunner in the bid. Like Jeff Bezos, Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance, through its broadcasting arm Viacom18 and telecom arm Reliance Jio, has been aggressively planning to expand the company’s portfolio across the sports business. It has roped in the sports business veteran Anil Jayaraj, Gulshan Verma, and its most-trusted lieutenant Manoj Modi for the bid, according to Business Standard. Jayaraj, who joined Reliance last year, was responsible for the ad revenue growth of Star Sports for six years, according to exchange4media.
The company’s partnership with Uday Shankar’s Bodhi Media in association with James Murdoch’s Lupa Systems is likely to give headway to the company for the bid. Notably, Reliance is the owner of the IPL team Mumbai Indians and has also partnered with LaLiga to bring the Spanish Football League exclusively to the Indian sub-continent for the next 3 years. The company has also partnered with Italian Football League Serie A, and French Football League Ligue1 through Viacom18. Viacom 18 is a joint venture between Reliance and US-based Viacom CBS.
Apart from Disney-Star, Reliance and Amazon, Google, Apple, Dream 11, Sky Sports UK, and SuperSport SA have also purchased invitation to tender (ITT) documents, the Indian Express reported. This year, the base price of the auction is set at Rs 32,000 crore for five seasons. In the previous auction for the 2018-2022 cycle, the base price was set at Rs 16,347 crore. BCCI officials are expecting the highest bid to go above Rs 50,000 crore. According to reports, the digital rights are divided into two categories—one for all matches, while the other is for the non-exclusive rights for 18 matches every season, including the tournament opener and playoffs. The number of matches has also increased to 74 with the addition of two more teams.