SET India, WSG pay $1 bil for cricket

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NEW DELHI -- Sony Entertainment Television India and World Sport Group will pay about $1.03 billion for the rights to broadcast Indian Premier League cricket in that country for the next 10 years.

In what is considered one of the highest amounts paid for cricket broadcast rights ever, Mumbai-based SET, Singapore-based sports marketing and management agency WSG and the Board of Control for Cricket in India finalized the IPL rights tender Monday in Mumbai.

BCCI also received bids from the News Corp.-Walt Disney Co. joint venture ESPN Star Sports and Indian network NDTV.

The winning SET-WSG bid of $1.03 billion includes $918 million as rights money and $108 million for compulsory IPL promotional activities.

The deal compares favorably with the reported $1.1 billion that ESS paid for rights to all events organized by the International Cricket Council from 2007-15, including two World Cup matches (HR 12/11/06).

The IPL -- backed by the Board of Control for Cricket in India and supported by ICC -- will begin its inaugural season April 18, featuring eight franchised teams playing 59 matches across 12 Indian cities.

Teams will play according to the recently launched Twenty20 format, a shorter one-day match with both sides bowling 20 overs each. The top two winning teams will qualify for an international Champions Twenty20 League to be held in October. The Indian team, which won the inaugural Twenty20 World Championship in South Africa in September, also will play.

The matches will be telecast on SET's hybrid cricket-Bollywood channel, SET Max, but the company could also sell rights to overseas channels.

"We are absolutely delighted that, after an open and transparent process, we have what we believe to be the best deal for the Indian Premier League and Indian cricket fans. ... We believe that the IPL will significantly benefit from an agreement with SET and World Sport Group," said IPL chairman and commissioner Lalit Modi, who also is BCCI vp.

In April, Indian network Zee Telefilms announced its own property, the Indian Cricket League with a fund of $232.26 million. The ICL aims to attract top cricketing talent to participate in its teams and launched its first series in November to a mixed response from audiences and sponsors.

SET's previous cricket deal was in 2002, when it bagged a five-year ICC pact for about $200 million. That deal included two ICC World Cup tournaments telecast on SET Max.
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