The battle for broadcast rights for the Indian Premier League reached fever pitch on Monday with global media giants reportedly bidding $5.65 billion to show and stream the hugely popular cricket contest.
Attracting some of cricket's top stars from India and abroad with large salaries, the pioneering IPL helped make Twenty20, a shorter and more exciting format of the sport, hugely popular, spawning copycat events worldwide.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) began an online auction on Sunday for four different packages to show the annual two-month event, attracting giants such as Disney, Sony and Indian tycoon Mukesh Ambani's Reliance group.
On Monday TV rights for the Indian market were sold for $3.02 billion while the digital streaming segment went for $2.56 billion for five seasons from 2023 to 2027, but it was unclear to whom, media reports said.
Two more packages of non-exclusive digital rights for 18 games including the play-offs as well and another for overseas TV and digital rights will likely be decided Tuesday.
This dwarfs the $2.55 billion paid in 2017 by Star India, owned by US behemoth Disney, for the previous TV and digital rights deal that expired last month with the conclusion of the 15th edition of the tournament.
Sony had televised the IPL for the first 10 years since the league started in 2008.
Jeff Bezos's Amazon, which has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on rights for European soccer and American football, had earlier shown interest in the IPL but pulled out of the contest ahead of the auction.