Star India trumped Reliance Industries and Sony Pictures Networks India to retain the rights to broadcast international and domestic cricket matches in India for the next five years.

The broadcaster won the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) international and domestic media rights, following an online auction, for the period starting 15th April 2018 till 31st March 2023, for Rs 6,138 crore (about $950 million), it said in a statement. On a flat average, it culminates to Rs 60.18 crore per international game. The deal is for 102 matches and will begin with the test match in which India plays Afghanistan in June in Bengaluru.

The deal values India’s international cricket matches over the next five years higher than the Indian Premier League (IPL) on a per match basis. When Star India had won the broadcast rights in 2012, it paid Rs 43.2 crore per match and when it won the global media rights for the IPL for five years (2018-2022) in September 2017, it paid Rs 54.5 crore per match. For 300 matches of the IPL, Star India had agreed to pay Rs 16,347.5 crore.

“No matter how popular other tournaments might be, but when the national team puts on the national jersey and gets on the field, that is a very special feeling. For us that has double the significance,” said Uday Shankar, chairman, Star India Private Limited and president, 21st Century Fox Asia, in a press conference on Thursday.

Star India, which is part of assets of Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox that the Walt Disney Company agreed to acquire late last year, will be spending in excess of Rs 34,000 crore on cricket broadcasting over the next five years when one includes its commitments on the IPL, the BCCI and the International Cricket Council.

For the BCCI it was a landmark moment as for the first time it used an electronic auction process for selling the media and broadcast rights of its events. The electronic auction was conducted on mjunction, a 50-50 joint venture of Tata Steel and Steel Authority of India Ltd. The BCCI had called the bids for the global television rights plus rest of the world digital rights package, Indian subcontinent digital rights package and global consolidated rights package.

“At the outset, our goal was quite clear. We wanted to maintain the highest level of transparency and at the same time we were looking to achieve the best possible revenue from the deal,” said Diana Edulji, member, committee of administrators, BCCI.

Star India’s Shankar added, “You knew the bids at all times, but at no stage did you know the bidder. Having a brutally transparent process is a major factor for their success. Before the auction began, we had a specific number in mind. The prices reflect the average value of all three formats of the game.”

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