Heavyweight IPL Media Rights Battle: Ambani-Murdoch Vs Bezos

| Updated: June 10, 2022 10:38 am

On the field, Gujarat Titans surprised everyone and finished as the best team in this year’s Indian Premier League. Now that the stage is set for the IPL media rights e-auction – linear and digital – on Sunday, it will be interesting to see if a newcomer rules the roost.

The auction pool has ten or so participants, including some of the world’s wealthiest and most famous people. The auction raises the prospect of a direct fight between Mukesh Ambani, representing Viacom18/Reliance, and Jeff Bezos, chairman of Amazon, particularly for digital rights.

Bezos is the world’s second richest person. Ambani is ranked ninth. The incumbent media rights holder, Disney-Star, will be present, and the presence of Apple and Google adds spice to the bidding war.

There’s a chance that Disney-Star will engage in aggressive bidding to keep the media rights, and it’s all about the numbers. Hotstar, the company’s digital platform, reportedly receives 30% of its global revenue from India, with the IPL playing a significant role. Amazon and Netflix, on the other hand, receive only 5-10% of their global revenue from India.

Reliance and Viacom18, two Indian conglomerates, have formed a strategic partnership with Bodhi Tree, with the latter investing $1.78 billion in the project. This is an investment platform operated by media magnate James Murdoch’s Lupa Systems and former Star India executive Uday Shankar. Shankar, as Star’s chairman-cum-CEO, changed the entire landscape five years ago when he paid four times the base price to secure the IPL media rights for his former company. He is now in the opposing camp.

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