Amazon has pulled out of the race to own the media rights to the IPL for the next five years. ESPNcricinfo has learned the global e-commerce giant is not among the final list of seven bidders participating in the e-auction on Sunday to decide who will get to broadcast one of the most lucrative tournaments in the cricket calendar.
Amazon has been a lead player in acquiring lucrative streaming rights across global sports and was expected to bid aggressively for the IPL's digital rights packages. In 2021, the company struck a billion-dollar-a-year deal (for 10 years) to broadcast just 15 Thursday night matches in the National Football League in the USA. Their withdrawal will be a blow to the IPL.
It is learned that the decision not to pursue the media rights was made by Amazon's top brass in the US and that it was communicated to the IPL on Friday - the deadline for bidders to submit their paperwork.
With Disney-Star, Sony, Viacom-Reliance, Zee, Fun Asia, Super Sport and Times Internet still in the running, the number of bidders this time is exactly half that of the previous auction, when 14 companies vied for the broadcast rights of the IPL from 2018 to 2022. Star India beat all comers with a record bid of $2.55 billion in the global consolidated category (TV and digital for India and rest of the world), making it the richest media rights deal in cricket.
This time, though, the IPL has segregated the TV and digital rights into their own packages. Package A consists of TV rights for the Indian subcontinent. Package B caters to digital rights for the Indian subcontinent. Package C contains digital rights for a special bouquet of matches, including the playoffs, for the Indian subcontinent. And Package D, TV and digital rights for the Rest of the World, which is divided into two sub-categories: combined ROW or five individual regions.
The auction will start at 11am IST on Sunday with the simultaneous sale of Packages A and B. Only once winners are decided for them will Packages C and D come up for bidding. Also, given there is a half hour interval between every bid, there is a strong chance the auction may spill over into a second day.
Every bidder can compete for more than one category but will need to list their price on a per match basis. For Package A, the base price per match is INR 49 crore (USD 6.3 million approx.). For Package B, it is INR 33 crore (USD 4.2 million approx.). For Package C, it is INR 16 crore (USD 2.05 million approx.). For Package D, it is INR 3 crore (USD 390,000 approx.).
The IPL has made one change to the e-auction though. The winner of Package A can enter into a contest for the digital rights with the winner of Package B. Originally, this contest was supposed to feature bid increments of at least 5% but now it's become a direct face-off. No minimum bid increments. The same process would be repeated to determine the winners of Packages C and D.
You can read more about how the e-auction process works if you click here.
ESPNcricinfo and Disney Star are part of the Walt Disney Company. ESPNcricinfo has done independent reporting on this story.