Indo-Pak series in Dubai? jackpot for Sony-Ten

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Sony India may soon have the best opportunity to reap the rich harvest from the Rs 2,600 crore deal to acquire the Ten Sports portfolio. As the Sony management is working to draw maximum rewards from the last season of their IPL media rights deal, the other good news is emerging for the broadcaster from India-Pakistan cricket front. According to reports, Board of Control for Cricket in India has written to the Ministry of Home Affairs for permission to play a cricket series against Pakistan in Dubai.

A go ahead for the September-November bilateral series from the Indian Government will simply be like a goldmine for Sony TV, who now owns the host broadcast rights for Pakistan cricket. It may also be termed as Ten’s loss – Sony’s gain. Ten Sports, earlier owned by Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited, had acquired the Pakistan Cricket Board media rights for the 2015-2020 cycle. The major chunk from these rights value was derived from Indo-Pak series. Even if Ten did not have to pay the rights fee as the series was cancelled, it had lost out on the best revenue opportunity from the deal. The same opportunity may now be served to Sony on a platter.

There were two Indo-Pak series slated during the rights period. Pakistan were to host India in December 2015-January 2016 for a three Test, five ODI and two T-20 matches. The sour political ties between New Delhi and Islamabad put paid to the series, dealing a severe blow to Ten Sports business plans. The PCB has claimed it has lost nearly Rs 1,300 crore (US$ 200 million) in revenues due to India’s refusal to allow Pakistan to host the series. In December last year, PCB Chief Shaharyar Khan had also said the PCB was considering legal action against BCCI for not honouring the FTP. The next Indo-Pak series during the Sony-Ten rights term is slated for December 2019-January 2020. That series is scheduled to have 2 Tests, five one-dayers and tow T20 ties.

If the proposed series is cleared it will be the best possible benefit for Sony from their Ten Sports bargain. Sony is targeting Rs 1,300 crore from the upcoming season of IPL. With Virat Kohli and company taking on their arch-rivals from across the border, the slot fee for Sony’s advertisers will simply be the highest ever on the network.

Eearlier, The Indian Express has reported that the BCCI has now approached the Home Ministry, seeking the government permission. And this time, the Indian team is willing to play a series in Dubai which is the home venue of the Pakistan team. The Indian board is looking at a September or November window to play Pakistan. The BCCI had reserved September for the Champions League T20 but the tournament has been discontinued. It is learnt that the BCCI wants a short series in November in Dubai before the Indian tour of South Africa.
“Permission has been sought from Home Ministry, we don’t know what is the government stand. Last time, tension between the two countries was at its peak. Also, there is the FTP agreement that needs to be fulfilled and that’s why the board is willing to travel to Dubai to play a series against Pakistan. Unless the government gives its nod, the BCCI cannot do anything,” a BCCI source was quoted as saying.
India last played a Test series against Pakistan in 2007-08, while the teams played an ODI series in 2012-13 season. The two teams last faced each other in March, 2016, in a World T20 match, which India won.

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