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IPL receives free-to-air window with Star-Doordarshan deal

Pay-television broadcaster Star India has agreed a sublicensing deal with Doordarshan that will grant the public-service broadcaster coverage of the Indian Premier League Twenty20 cricket competition for the first time.

The agreement has been announced on the eve of the 2018 IPL season, which commences tomorrow (Saturday). Reports in December had said the Indian government was working on a directive that would force Star to share its IPL rights with Doordarshan, which is operated by Prasar Bharati.

Under the deal, Star chairman and chief executive Uday Shankar told Indiantelevision.com that the broadcaster would share highlights and one match every Sunday, along with select other games. These matches will be aired on a one-hour delay.

Indiantelevision.com, citing industry and government sources, added that the Star-Prasar Bharati deal will allow Doordarshan to broadcast the opening match, the play-offs and the final. Doordarshan will handle advertising sales and marketing of the matches it broadcasts with revenues to be shared with Star on a 50-50 basis.

The announcement comes after Star yesterday (Thursday) became the dominant player in Indian cricket broadcasting through retaining rights to all international and domestic matches played in the country.

Following an auction process that commenced on Tuesday, Star emerged victorious with a bid of Rs61.381bn (€765.1m/$943.4m) for the five-year period commencing April 1, 2018. The new tender covered all international matches staged by the BCCI in India and domestic tournaments including the Ranji Trophy and the Irani Cup.

Star in September ousted Sony as the main rights-holder to the IPL after securing the global television and digital rights to the competition. Under an agreement with the Board of Control for Cricket in India, Star paid Rs164.375bn for all rights packages on offer across the five editions of the IPL, from 2018 to 2022.

Commenting on the agreement to share IPL rights with Doordarshan, Shankar told the India Today website: “It's not a question of it being fair or unfair. What we have shared with DD is an act of courtesy on our part. Legally we did not need to do it because IPL is not an event of national importance.

“A request had come from DD and the government that for those who can't watch pay tv, they get to see the IPL. They wanted it to be shared live which was not possible for us and we refused. But we told them that for those who can't watch pay tv, we will give some matches on a deferred basis.

“So on a one hour delayed basis we will give one match every week to DD viewers and apart from that knockouts and final we will give on one hour delayed basis. I think that's our social responsibility so we did it.”