The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is debating the best strategy to auction off the media rights for bilateral cricket during the cycle 2023–2027, according to reports. The choice, if reports are to be believed, is between a closed process and an open e-auction.
The BCCI’s own experience with the auction of IPL rights last year should provide a clear pointer to the answer. On that occasion, it resorted to e-auctions and ended up earning close to £4.84 billion, a three-fold jump from the previous auction. A logical question to ask would be – why change a process that has worked so well for you so recently in the past?
But past experience is by no means the sole reason why the open e-auction route should be preferred over the closed bid method. Clearly an open auction is by definition more transparent since everybody can see how much is being bid and have no doubts at the end of the process that the highest bidder won. Closed bids have historically been plagued by suspicions of collusion and post-facto bid switching behind closed doors. Obviously, that is not a cloud anybody at the BCCI would want to have hanging over the process.
While the BCCI is technically a private body, we cannot escape the fact that Team India – and hence its bilateral engagements – represents the nation.