Media giants STAR group has become the new sponsors of the Board of Control for Cricket in India after Bharti Airtel, the telecommunication service provider, did not renew its contract with the BCCI earlier this year. STAR have bagged the rights for international matches at home till March 2014. They will pay at the base price of Rs 2 crore per fixture.
With the BCCI still dilly-dallying on its 'home' international calendar, India are so far scheduled to play 13 international matches. These include a T20 and seven ODIs versus Australia starting October 10 and a two-Test, three ODI series against the West Indies in November. India are still not sure of travelling to South Africa in December. In case that series fall through, BCCI may host a tri-nation series where Pakistan and Sri Lanka could be the other teams.
According to the BCCI, companies had the option of bidding for either the series between India and Australia, or the series between India and the West Indies, or both. The BCCI's marketing committee in Mumbai on Thursday awarded the title sponsorship rights to STAR and ESPN Software India Private Limited. STAR are already the BCCI's broadcast partners. According to media reports, mobile handset manufacturer Micromax was the only other bidder.
In April 2012, the Rupert Murdoch-led STAR group had clinched a six-year broadcast and digital rights deal from the BCCI for all international and domestic matches. The deal is valued at Rs 3,851 crore. STAR had beaten big players like Viacom 18's Colors, Multi Screen Media's SET Max and Subhash Chandra's ZEE TV to bag the cricket rights. However, the lucrative Indian Premier League broadcast rights are with SET Max. That is valued at Rs 8,200 crore until 2017.
Airtel had won the sponsorship rights in 2010 for all international and domestic matches scheduled in India. The three-year contract, running from September 1, 2010 to March 31, 2013, was worth Rs 3.33 crore for each international fixture. Airtel were also allowed branding on stumps and fixed slots for inside-stadium advertising as part of the deal.
There was a three-month window for Airtel to negotiate an extension of the contract, but with no further discussion on the matter, the BCCI's marketing committee floated fresh tender document. By offering a short-term contract, BCCI has played it smart given the current economic climate. With the ghost of recession haunting all and sundry, the Board should be happy to rope in a sponsor that is paying Rs 2 crore per international match. With India touring most of 2014, the BCCI will hope for the economy to turnaround and recover the 'losses'.
For STAR, it's a double whammy. Keen to reach the masses, the broadcast giants want to 'sweep' sporting properties that has a massive Indian audience. It already has the marquee ICC events till 2015 and is now foraying into 'key' events like the Asian Football Confederation Cup and Asian hockey events which have huge Indian interest.
It's a win-win situation for both parties as BCCI and STAR strengthen their relationship at a time when market returns can be unpredictable. STAR's financial stability clearly has been a massive factor in winning BCCI hearts.