IPL 4 in HD ?
SET Max, the official channel for the Indian Premiere League (IPL), is demanding Rs 10 crore for a high-definition feed for the tournament's fourth season, two direct to home television service providers said.
Senior officials from the two companies, who did not wish to be named, said the broadcaster's demand was too high and it would have to slash its rate.
Sun Direct is the only DTH operator that has a deal with SET Max for HD feed as it signed a deal last year.
Till Monday evening, none of the other providers of direct to home (DTH) service, an alternative to cable TV, had signed a deal with SET Max for the high-definition feed. High-definition (HD) feeds offer better sound and picture quality when compared to normal feeds. Broadcast in HD is also free of advertisements. As per industry estimates, there are 2-2.5 lakh subscribers of HD feed in the country, of which 1 lakh were added during the just concluded World Cup.
IPL's fourth season, which starts on April 8, will have 74 matches played between 10 teams. The Information & Broadcasting ministry has given approval to sports channels to show certain sporting events in HD on the condition that they are free of advertisements.
"We are in talks with the broadcaster. But we will sign up for HD feed only if the cost is reasonable. It is not economically viable for the industry to absorb such a huge cost for every sporting event," said Salil Kapoor, COO of India's largest DTH company, Dish TV.
He however refused to give details of the negotiations.
ESPN Star Sports (ESS) is said to have demanded Rs 10,000 per subscriber from DTH service providers for the HD feed, but had to scale it down to Rs 100-150. DTH players ended up paying 3-5 crore for the World Cup feed.
Reliance digital TV is in talks with the broadcaster, its CEO Sanjay Behl said.
MSM India, which owns SET MAX, has the official broadcast rights for IPL.
Rohit Gupta, president network sales at MSM India said, "We will offer HD feed for IPL. Our distribution team is in talks with DTH companies. The numbers are small but growing."
Unlike the World Cup, the IPL matches will not be screened atmultiplexes. IPL's chief executive Sundar Raman said the governing council of IPL has decided not to give the rights to any company to screen IPL4 matches in multiplexes.
In 2009, Dar Capital-owned Entertainment and Sports Direct had won the rights to show IPL matches in theatres through digital distribution company UFO Moviez. But after Lalit Modi was removed from the position of IPL commissioner, all deals signed during his tenure came under the scanner. Restaurants, however, have the permission to show the matches, for which they are in talks with SET Max.