Viacom18's BCCI Auction Triumph: Shaping the Future of Indian Media

September 1, 2023


In a landmark development for the Indian media landscape, Viacom18 has secured the coveted television and digital rights for the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) matches for the next five years (2023-28). The winning bid of a staggering Rs 5,963 crore has not only established Viacom18's dominance in the Indian cricket broadcasting sphere but also signaled a significant shift in the dynamics of the media industry.

Viacom18's Strategic Coup Viacom18's victory in both the television and digital rights categories signifies a strategic coup. With previous ownership of the television and digital rights for the Women's Premier League (WPL) and the digital rights for the Indian Premier League (IPL), Viacom18 now boasts a near monopoly in Indian cricket broadcasting. This strategic move allows them to maintain a consistent stream of live content, a crucial factor in retaining and attracting viewers to their sports channel, Sports18.

A Boon for JioCinema This triumph extends beyond traditional television, as it strengthens Viacom18's presence in the Over-the-Top (OTT) space. JioCinema, a subsidiary of Reliance and part of the Viacom18 network, stands to gain significantly from this acquisition. With the BCCI rights in its arsenal, JioCinema can scale up revenues, intensify competition in the OTT segment, and continue offering content free, potentially posing challenges to other broadcast-based OTT players like Sony, Zee, and Disney+Hotstar.

Enhanced Monetization and Bundling Opportunities Media experts believe that Viacom18's acquisition of both television and digital rights bodes well from a bundling and monetization perspective. By securing both types of rights, Viacom18 enhances its negotiating leverage and can offer bundled advertising options, ultimately maximizing revenues. In contrast, when two separate entities hold TV and digital rights, it often triggers competitive rivalry, which can dampen overall revenue prospects.

Lower Premiums and Rational Pricing Interestingly, the premium Viacom18 paid for these media rights is notably lower than previous cycles, particularly in comparison to the IPL. A range of factors, including fewer T20 matches, reduced interest in bilateral matches due to the IPL's popularity, limited platforms bidding, and a challenging advertising environment, contributed to this outcome. This year's BCCI auction displayed a more rational approach to pricing, reflecting the media rights market's evolving dynamics.

The Future of Cricket Broadcasting While Viacom18's victory reshapes the Indian media landscape, it also raises questions about the future of cricket broadcasting. Bilateral cricket tournaments, once a focal point, now face competition from more significant leagues like the IPL. As a result, broadcasters may show less interest in bidding for these rights. The media rights landscape, exemplified by the IPL and ICC, has witnessed exponential growth in value, but macroeconomic factors and market conditions have brought about a more balanced approach to revenue and cost management.

Viacom18's triumphant acquisition of BCCI's media rights marks a transformative moment in the Indian media industry. It paves the way for new possibilities in content delivery, monetization strategies, and competition within the OTT space. While the premiums may be lower than expected, the long-term impact of this strategic move on the media landscape remains a fascinating development to watch.

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