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SuperSport's Nail-Biting Acquisition of IPL Broadcast Rights

Published September 21, 2023
9 months ago

In a dramatic sequence, SuperSport, owned by DStv’s MultiChoice, came close to surrendering the highly coveted broadcast rights for the Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket tournament. The problem ensued when a middleman, identified as Viacom18, inflated the charges for the rights beyond MultiChoice's budget.

Tim Jacobs, financial chief at MultiChoice Group, revealed this wasn't a pricing negotiation tactic, but rather an honest walkout forced by their budgetary limitations. The anxieties peaked when MultiChoice publicly announced on the SuperSport Twitter handle, a day prior to the IPL start, that the tournament wouldn't air. Miraculously, two hours before the opening, SuperSport declared it had secured a deal to broadcast all 74 matches live.

Viacom18, a joint venture between Paramount Global and Ambani Reliance Industries, had obtained the global rights for IPL, adding an exorbitant margin to their cost price. In 2021, Viacom18 stunned media giants like the Walt Disney Company and Sony by securing the rights to broadcast and stream the IPL from 2023 to 2027 with a hefty bid purportedly around $3 billion (R57 billion).

Eventually, Viacom18 yielded to MultiChoice’s firmness when it realised that the value of the rights would dwindle once the tournament commenced and viewership in African markets could potentially diminish. In a market where manoeuvrings of this nature are uncommon, Jacobs emphasised that MultiChoice's budgetary discipline was paramount, especially in a challenged economy like South Africa, thus avoiding reckless spending that could ruin their business.

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