Star India CEO Uday Shankar will be the happiest man to get 8-year broadcasting rights for his company from the International Cricket Council (ICC) from 2015 to 2023. The rights will be jointly owned by Star India and Star Middle-East.
The award of exclusive TV rights came Star India way after a grueling four months period from a tendering stage, bidding to evaluation. The entire process involved two rounds of bidding and there were 17 bids from various broadcasters for ICC audio-visual rights.
While the final value of the rights fee agreed is not known, Star India is reportedly paying $1.92 billion, which is significantly higher than the current rights fee of $1.2 billion (for 7 years). Though the contract period is more by one year, the fee paid is quite high by any estimation. Currently, ESPN Star Sports holds the audio-visual rights that expire after the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015.
The new eight-year deal includes 18 ICC tournaments, two ICC Cricket World Cups (2019 and 2023), two ICC Champions Trophy tournaments (2017 and 2021) and two ICC World T20 tournaments (2016 and 2020).
ICC Chief Executive David Richardson said the agreement "guarantees more money for all our members, thereby underpinning the growth and development of the game".
But the impact is already felt by common viewers with Star India doubling its viewership fee on all its sports channels since October 1. The fee for Star Sports channels is Rs.20 each per month while it is Rs.10 for general channels like Starplus.
The bottomline is that unless they mop up double the money from the viewers, they cannot pay the kind of $1.92 billion for 8 years to the ICC. When the issue was raised, some officials have pointed out that they are forking out huge amount in the bidding for ICC TV rights and there is no way but to recover it from their Indian TV viewers. One official said the Indian viewers pay pittance compared to the viewers in the US or Europe.
Uday Shankar, CEO, Star India, said that it "is a tribute to Star’s commitment and ICC’s trust in our ability to take the great game of cricket to the next level." Truly, Uday Shankar and ICC Chief N.Srinivasan will take it to the priciest experience to watch Star TV Sports channels now.