MUMBAI: A range of broadcasters are expected to bid for the media rights to the India Premier League – the tender process opens today – as competition heats up in the sports viewing category.

Last month mobile phone maker VIVO paid Rs 2,199 crore for sponsorship rights for the next five years, and “Just like no one expected the IPL title sponsorship rights to be so high, everyone will try and break the bank to earn the media rights for the most lucrative sports property ever created in India,” said Indranil Das Blah, partner at Kwan Entertainment and Marketing Solutions, an entertainment and sports marketing agency.

Sony Pictures Networks (SPN), which had the rights for the first ten years of the tournament, is determined to hang on to the IPL – “We will make an aggressive bid to retain the rights both for television and digital,” said SPN chief executive N.P. Singh – which forms a crucial part of its sporting offer.

This week, the network announced it was adding two new HD channels, bringing its sports brands together under one roof in the Sony Pictures Sports Network (SPSN) – including cricket, wrestling, football, golf and international sports – and recruiting Sachin Tendulkar as its Ambassador for Sports.

The future of sports is multi-sport,” said Singh. “Therefore, we want to engage viewers in a multi-sports milieu.”

Other media businesses appear to be thinking the same way. Discovery Communications, the US broadcaster, launched DSport earlier this year – a sports channel that aims to offer 4,000 hours of live sport a year.

Currently, DSport has the rights to several overseas football leagues and horse racing from the UK and Ireland, but has indicated its interest in bidding for the IPL media rights.

In recent days it has also scooped up the rights to The Open, the leading UK golf tournament that began yesterday with two Indian players taking part – Anirban Lahiri and Shiv Kapur.

And, with an eye to how sport may evolve, it is to broadcast 90 minutes of action every day for the rest of the year from the ESL India Premiership, the country’s leading eSports tournament.

eSports will be an exhibition event at next year’s Asian Games and a medal event in 2022.

Data sourced from Mint, Exchange4Media,; additional content by WARC staff