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ESPN-Star Sports wins rights for ICC events

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Value of the bid likely to be around $1.1 billion

Our Bureau

Mumbai, Dec. 10

The ESPN-Star Sports (ESS) has won the audio-visual rights for International Cricket Council (ICC) events from 2007-2015, the ICC announced on Saturday. "We are delighted to have been appointed the ICC's global media and production partner," Mr R.C. Venkateish, Managing Director of ESS India, said.

"The addition of the ICC rights on top of our existing comprehensive programming of cricket as well as other sports will serve to enhance our position as the leader in the sports broadcasting space in India," he added.

Unanimous Decision

According to the ICC Web site, the decision by the ICC board to award the contract to ESS was an unanimous one. "The board was unanimous in the view that the ESPN-Star Sports bid was the best, and we believe all of our 97 members will gain significant benefit from an agreement with ESPN-STAR Sports," the ICC President, Mr Percy Sonn, said in a statement.

While the ICC and ESS have declined to disclose the value of bid, agency reports place the value of the bid in the region of $1.1 billion. That value is approximately double the value of the ICC's previous deal with the Global Cricket Corporation (GCC), worth $550 million for the period from 2000 to 2007, even though GCC's deal included sponsorship rights as well.

Tournaments

The audio-visual rights cover 18 ICC events, including the World Cups in 2011 and 2015. According to the ICC Web site, other events scheduled during the eight-year period include the first two ICC Twenty20 World Championships, four ICC U/19 Cricket World Cups and, for the first time, the Women's Cricket World Cup with two tournaments scheduled for 2009 (Australia) and 2013 (India). There will also be a minimum of three ICC Champions Trophy tournaments in that time span.

The eight-year period begins in September 2007 with the first Twenty20 World Cup in South Africa. Zee Sports and Nimbus Communications were the other bidders for the rights. Sony Entertainment Television, the winner four years ago with a bid of roughly $250 million, did not bid for the rights this time around.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated December 11, 2006)
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