Purvita Chatterjee

Mumbai, May 15 Having bagged the global media rights for the Indian Premier League (at $1.026 billion), the Singapore-based World Sport Group (WSG) has recovered 60 per cent of its investments for the first five years.

Mr Venu Nair, CEO, WSG, told Business Line, “We have sold the global media rights for the first five years and have recovered 60 per cent of the investment. The rest of the cost will be recovered in the next five years when we would get better value as there has been huge interest for the IPL matches worldwide.” Having sold the IPL rights for international TV, global radio, mobile and Internet to a host of companies worldwide, WSG expects to sell the rights at a 30-40 per cent premium for the next 6-10 years of the league matches.

As Mr Nair says, “We expect to get between 30 to 40 per cent more as we reinvest what we have already got in the first five years.”

Pegging the IPL matches as a sports-led entertainment property, WSG has already sold the global media rights to 11 companies including Setanta Sports in the UK and Direct TV in the US. In India, WSG has sold the media rights to Sony Entertainment Television.

“IPL is like an international tournament as we have the cream of the cricket playing nations. There is a lot of interest in these matches and we believe IPL has taken off. We have chosen partners who would help in developing this property further by having programmes and promotions built around this concept,” said Mr Nair.

In fact, it was Australian audiences that registered the highest viewership for the IPL matches beginning with its first match in Bangalore. “There were 1 million households that watched the IPL inaugural match and viewership peaked during the first game,” claims Mr Nair. The popularity of the matches led to healthy viewership in South Africa and the UK as well. In fact, the broadcasters in South Africa (Super Sports) and the UK (Setanta) have already evinced interest in buying the rights for the next five years.

Commenting on the IPL audiences, Mr Nair said, “Currently, there is loyalty towards the players more than loyalty towards the team. But this will change with time just like it happens for the football leagues. Today, the players are playing more for their personal pride and it is their individual pride which is at stake as they have to create revenues for themselves.”

Meanwhile, more sponsors are coming forward after witnessing the popularity of the IPL matches. “We are in discussions with an oil lubricant company and also a 4-wheeler giant,” Mr Nair said , without divulging any names. In fact, an Indian general entertainment channel has also evinced interest in developing programming around the games. “A GEC channel wants to be part of IPL and we are looking at ways to form partnerships to build more mileage around IPL,” added Mr Nair.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated May 16, 2008)
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