Friday, June 16, 2017

IPL Bidding 2018-2022 "The Winner's Curse"

Well let us take a break from Nifty and the negativity around jobs. It is the cricket season and an exciting time as we are going to have bidding for the broadcasting rights for IPL 2018 to 2022.

The last time bidding was done was in 2008 when mysteriously, the lone player in the foray was Sony. Star India's bid got rejected as their bid was conditional and BCCI wanted a non-conditional bid. Well whatever happened, we know that Sony paid USD 900 million for exclusive television rights for a period of 10 years. Without taking into account inflation and exchange rate fluctuations etc, that was a bid of 5000 crores for a period of 10 years. The estimated revenue that Sony got for IPL 2017 is pegged between 1100 crores and 1300 crores. We also know that the previous investment was recovered within 3 years.

Now that the new tendering process has started, bids have been invited by the BCCI. There are about 16 to 18 players in the foray. Obviously the television channels will all be out there and thanks to the digital era, some of the interesting bidders are companies like Reliance Jio, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon

In this three part article, I will cover the merits/demerits of the bidding structure, SWOT analysis of bidders and revenue streams for bidders. First things first, I want to discuss the merits and demerits of the current bidding structure itself.

We all know that the BCCI believes in hegemony as it wields a lot of power in the places that matter. As compared to the last time that the bidding took place, the BCCI has wisely invited bids from multiple parties and hopefully there will be more transparency. What has shocked me is the minimum reserve price that BCCI has pegged for the broadcasting rights for the next five years.

Considering the scathing review BCCI got from the Lodha panel and considering how little BCCI has given back for development of the game, the current reserve prices are appalling; this is an encore of what happened with the telecom spectrum and telcos. Based on the public information available about the advertisement slots, past collection data, here is my graph of projected earnings for IPL 2018 to 2022

The workings of this graph are in the excel file here

I will be updating information and the workings  behind this graph from time to  time.

As of now, the biggest revenue source is television advertisement slots and it will continue to be for the next five years. Television advertisement inventory is sold as 10 second slots and an average IPL match has about  230 to 250 10 second slots depending on the stage of the game. A lot of hype is going on about the digital space and IPL 2017 showed an average 2 million users on hotstar for each match. Going by Google/Youtube's pay of 1 dollar / 1000 views translates to about 1 rupee per user per match in the digital space. Now that virtual reality devices have come in and soon, we will have the luxury of watching sports in 3D on our smartphones, the revenue per user can notch up much higher with subscriptions but we also need to remember that this is just the beginning. The digital revenues won't be as high as a lot of media pundits are projecting them to be.

With some basic assumptions, my back of the envelope suggests a revenue of about 6,000 crores for IPL2018 to 2022. Taking some more optimistic projections and title sponsors and technological disruptions, 8,000 crores is the best case scenario. Remember that we have an election coming in between and one structural bear market scenario that will play out. There will be a lot of discretionary spending taps closed for at least two seasons. This means that the winner cannot bet on pure advertising revenues. Right now, BCCI is expecting upwards of 16,000 crores and that is not a price worth paying at all. Any price above 8,000 crores for a 5 year contract is going to end up as a proverbial "Winner's Curse" The money will be made with more activities upstream and downstream

In the next two parts of this series, I will discuss the SWOT analysis of major players in the bidding ring for the IPL auction

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