The Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI) resistance at the International Cricket Council (ICC) in not allowing the latter to go ahead with the policy changes in finance and governance structures, may not have been the only factor putting pressure on the game’s parent body.
While it’s not known yet why Shashank Manohar put in his papers as independent chairman of the ICC – he cites personal reasons – TOI can reveal that the governing body of the sport may have been given a serious reality check by its own global broadcaster – Star India.
The ICC had been projecting total revenues of US$2.7b for the current eight-year financial cycle going up to 2023 and the math on which it was based included the introduction of two more World T20 editions. In doing so, the ICC invited its existing broadcast rights partner, Star, to put forth a valuation for the two additional properties.
It is learned that Star offered a “pithy” value – sources estimate it to be around just US$40m – for each proposed edition, thus forcing member boards of the ICC to back off and put the idea on the back-burner.
While Star refuses to comment on the issue right now, industry sources say it is clear the broadcaster was not going to risk its investments in a market clouded with uncertainty, given the flashpoint that the BCCI had reached with the ICC and Manohar in particular.
The members of the ICC had overwhelmingly pursued the idea of a World T20 every two years when they met the giant broadcasters in May last year. The two editions would be in addition to the 2020 tournament, already part of the current rights cycle, and South Africa was being considered as the first possible destination in 2018.
“There was serious optimism considering how the 2016 World T20 had been received in India with over 80 million fans watching India’s semifinal alone, vis-a-vis the numbers generated during the 2015 50-over World Cup,” a source in the know of things said.
A lot has gone under the bridge in one year. With the Indian Premier League (IPL) rights coming up for renewal anytime in the next couple of months, the broadcast industry is clearly not willing to open all its cards yet.
“Only a strong India at the ICC can possibly make way for any such resolutions. Nothing will work if the idea is to eat into India’s space and work on the idea of a new power centre,” the source added.
What the broadcast industry clearly realises is that Australia and England, the old power centres in cricket, have been struggling to sell their own respective rights that are up for renewal. A flurry of market experiments are being proposed – by way of bundling of rights, restructuring bilateral cycles, grabbing the annual September-October window and more. Broadcasters, nevertheless, want to wait and watch where India’s headed from here.