IPL sells media rights for a billion dollars
India's cricket chiefs on Monday sold the media rights for the star-studded inaugural Twenty20 Indian Premier League for one billion dollars.
A consortium of India's Sony Television network and the Singapore-based World Sports Group won the rights for the next 10 years by outbidding the ESPN-Star Sports network, jointly owned by Rupert Murdoch and Disney.
"There were two bidders in the final phase -- ESPN Star Sports and the Sony-WSG combine," IPL commissioner and Indian cricket board vice-president Lalit Modi told reporters.
"Sony-WSG bagged the media rights for 1.026 billion dollars, comprising 918 million dollars as rights money and 108 million dollars for compulsory promotional activities.
"They will keep the rights for the next 10 years."
The IPL, a brainchild of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), is backed by the International Cricket Council and supported by cricket boards around the world.
The tournament, featuring eight franchised teams drawn from a star cast of cricket's top players, will be held over 44 days in 12 Indian cities from April 18, Modi said.
The top two sides in the tournament, boasting a prize money of three million dollars, will qualify for an international Champions Twenty20 League, which will be held at an undecided venue in October.
Test captains Ricky Ponting of Australia, Graeme Smith of South Africa, Daniel Vettori of New Zealand and Shoaib Malik of Pakistan are among the 80 cricketers contracted for the IPL.
The entire Indian team, which won the inaugural Twenty20 World Championship in South Africa in September, will also play.
Bids for the eight team franchises will be declared on January 24, Modi said, adding that player auctions will take place around February 7.
"Not all the contracted players may be available in the first year because of international Test schedules, but many stars will play," he said.
"Playing for the country has to be the top priority."