Rupert Murdoch’s company just paid $2.6 billion for the rights to cricket games

September 4, 2017
Category: Business & Work

Rupert Murdoch knows an all-rounder, namely a cricket player who can both bowl and bat adeptly.

And maybe, it seems, Mark Zuckerberg now does. Or somebody who works for him.

This sports business story that broke in Monday's Financial Times is worthy of note:

"Rupert Murdoch’s Star India has seen off rival offers from Sony Pictures and Facebook with a record $2.6 billion bid to secure the rights to show the Indian Premier League cricket competition around the world for the next five years."

"Star India, a subsidiary of 21st Century Fox, won the auction for the IPL rights on Monday, beating Sony Pictures, which owns the broadcast rights until next year, and Facebook, which had bid $600 million for the digital rights. Sony had paid about $1 billion for its 10-year contract, meaning the value of the competition has quintupled in a decade."

Stop. Get that reference to Facebook bidding for a big part of the deal?

"Very significant," says Tom Rogers, the executive chairman of Winview, which is aggressively entering an emerging industry that melds live sports and mobile to allow users to wager on sports in real time. He's the former CEO of Tivo and a of under of CNBC and MSNBC.

It adds, he says, "to the chess game of how the NFL, and by extension all major rights, will be bid out. It is not just Verizon rights at issue for mobile but whether the networks will have the ability to bid for the combo of on-air and online rights as a package" or whether rights holders split them up and let the likes of Facebook, Amazon and others bid from those separately from the linear on-air rights.

"Which means to preserve any degree of exclusivity for any given game, the on-air guys will have to hugely pay up, as Murdoch presumably did in India (with the cricket rights)."

"Yet in the U.S., the decline of the bundle is accelerating and the fees to back up those bids are thus melting away. The bidding landscape will change dramatically."

But one thing is abundantly clear, Roger concludes. "It is great news for the league rights holders and team owners."