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Bids for Sri Lanka Cricket international media rights due next week

Bids for international media rights and a media production contract for Sri Lanka Cricket properties for the 2020-23 period are due next Thursday, February 20.

The cricket board is understood to be selling two packages of media rights – one for television and radio and another for digital platforms. Both packages, and the production contract, cover the same content – national team cricket matches taking place in Sri Lanka. Both media rights packages cover all territories outside Sri Lanka.

The new rights cycle begins in April and its first major fixtures are the tours of Sri Lanka by South Africa, India and Bangladesh taking place between May and August. Sri Lanka hosts the West Indies and England this month and next in the last major fixtures covered by the current rights cycle.

Sri Lanka Cricket’s international media rights have historically been acquired by Indian broadcasters, with that market accounting for most of their value. Pay-television broadcaster Sony Pictures Networks is the current rights-holder, in an eight-year deal running 2012-13 to 2019-20. 

Sony and another Indian media company, Lex Sportel Vision, are understood to be among the bidders for both the television and radio rights, and the digital rights. India’s biggest sports broadcaster, Star, is not thought to be bidding.

Sony acquired the rights in the current cycle via its acquisition of sports pay-television business Ten Sports from Zee Entertainment Enterprises in 2017. Sony has focused on overseas cricket board rights in recent years after bigger rival Star grabbed the main domestic properties – BCCI cricket and the Indian Premier League – as well as International Cricket Council rights in the current cycles.

Sony is the current rights-holder in India for Cricket Australia, the England and Wales Cricket Board, and Cricket South Africa.

Lex Sportel Vision runs the sports pay-television channel branded 1Sport in India and DSport in other Indian subcontinent territories. It is a smaller player than Sony, with a portfolio that includes Indian I-League football, minor cricket properties, golf, mixed martial arts and minor wrestling properties.

Until recently, Lex Sport Vision ran DSport in partnership with international media group Discovery. The partnership has fallen apart and a legal dispute is underway over control of the DSport brand and channel assets.