scorecardWith an eye on IPL, Mukesh Ambani boosts his war chest with a ₹13,500 crore investment from Murdoch
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With an eye on IPL, Mukesh Ambani boosts his war chest with a ₹13,500 crore investment from Murdoch

With an eye on IPL, Mukesh Ambani boosts his war chest with a ₹13,500 crore investment from Murdoch
Business3 min read
Mukesh Ambani, the chairman of Reliance Industries, owns Mumbai Indians, the most successful IPL team    BCCL
  • Mukesh Ambani has set his eyes on the IPL broadcast and streaming rights auction, which is set to happen in June this year.
  • In this regard, Ambani has raised ₹13,500 crore from James Murdoch and Uday Shankar’s investment platform, Bodhi Tree Systems.
  • We evaluate the options available for the trio of Ambani, Murdoch and Shankar, and the competition that they are up against.
Mukesh Ambani, India’s second richest person, has now set his aim on winning the Indian Premier League (IPL) broadcast rights, boosting his war chest with a ₹13,500 crore investment from James Murdoch – the son of media mogul Rupert Murdoch – and former Walt Disney veteran Uday Shankar.

The investment will be done by Bodhi Tree Systems, an investment platform run jointly by Murdoch and Shankar. As part of the deal, Bodhi Tree will acquire a stake of nearly 40% in Viacom18, the joint venture between Reliance’s TV18 and ViacomCBS, now called Paramount Global.

“James [Murdoch] and Uday’s [Shankar] track record is unmatched. For over two decades, they have played an undeniable role in shaping the media ecosystem in India, Asia, and around the world. We are very excited to partner with Bodhi Tree and lead India’s transition to a streaming-first media market,” said Mukesh Ambani, chairman, Reliance Industries.

In the run up to bidding for IPL broadcast rights, Viacom18 has set up a sports channel called Sports18, and appointed Star Sports’ Anil Jayaraj as the chief executive officer, sports.

Currently, Sports18 is airing matches from the NBA (National Basketball Association), LaLiga and the FIFA World Cup. But to really gain traction in India, it will have to start offering cricket broadcasts, and there’s no better way to do it than win the IPL streaming rights going up for auction now.

Bidding for the IPL satellite television and digital streaming rights will begin on June 12.

Star India, the current holders of IPL rights, won the bid for the ongoing term in 2018 for ₹16,300 crore for five years, under the leadership of Uday Shankar.

With Shankar throwing his weight behind Viacom18, Ambani’s statement about making India a streaming-first media market, and Viacom18 buying the invitation-to-tender (ITT) document, it is likely that the company could bid for IPL digital streaming rights.

Prior to Star India, Sony held the broadcast rights for the first ten 10 seasons of IPL, from 2008 to 2017, with the contract valued at $1.03 billion. It might seem like a steal compared to Star India’s bid for 2018-2022, and more so, compared to the base price for the 2023-2027 term.

Ambani’s Viacom18 is up against giants like Disney, Sony and others

According to a report by the Times of India, Viacom18, apart from media giants Disney, Sony, Zee and even Amazon, has bought the IPL tender document already.

Interestingly enough, iPhone maker Apple could also reportedly buy the document, although it’s unclear if it is merely to test the waters or if it is actually serious about bidding.

It is worth highlighting that Mukesh Ambani already owns Mumbai Indians, the most successful IPL team, and also the most valuable.

BCCI has set a base price of the complete IPL broadcast and streaming rights package at ₹32,890 crore.

The full package has been divided into four buckets, namely:

  1. Indian subcontinent television (all matches).
  2. Indian subcontinent digital (all matches).
  3. Indian subcontinent digital (18 matches).
  4. Rest of the world.
Interestingly enough, the winner of the A package will have the right to re-bid for the B package, giving it another chance to mop up the streaming rights. This could lead to fierce bidding for the A package, and drive up the prices.

With bigwigs like Disney, Sony and Amazon in the fray, the trio of Ambani, Murdoch and Shankar have their task cut out.