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MUMBAI: India’s cricket board said Tuesday it has sold the broadcast rights of the IPL tournament for the next five seasons to global media giants for an eye-popping $6.2 billion.

“IPL is now the 2nd most valued sporting league in the world in terms of per match value!” tweeted Jay Shah, Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) secretary, announcing the results of a hotly contested three-day online auction.

The amount paid for the rights to one of the world’s most watched sports contests dwarfs the $2.55 billion that Star India paid in 2017 for the previous five seasons to 2022.

Star, owned by US behemoth Disney, retained the domestic TV rights for the coming five seasons of the annual two-month competition from 2023 to 2027 for $3.01 billion, the BCCI said.

But the digital rights were auctioned off for even more — $3.04 billion — reflecting the expectation that more people in India and abroad will watch the matches on digital devices.

The buyer was Viacom18, a joint venture between Reliance — owned by Indian tycoon Mukesh Ambani — and US group Paramount Global as well as an investment group reportedly backed by James Murdoch.

“So digital turned out to be bigger than linear TV this season in #IPLMediaRights,” BCCI treasurer Arun Dhumal wrote on Twitter.

“I would like to thank all the participants for their interest in the best ‘Made in India’ sports property!”

Also sold were the international broadcast rights, split between Viacom18 and the international arm of India’s Times Group.

Attracting some of world cricket’s top stars with bumper salaries, the pioneering IPL helped make Twenty20 — a shorter format of the sport — hugely popular, attracting hundreds of millions of viewers and spawning copycat events worldwide.

Last season it expanded to include 10 franchises battling it out in 74 matches, climaxing in a final in the world’s biggest cricket stadium in Ahmedabad in front of 105,000 fans — and millions more watching on television and smartphones.

Also in the auction for the rights was Japan’s Sony, which televised the IPL for the first 10 years after its inception in 2008.

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