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Doing Things Differently

With the mandate of transforming BCCI into an entity that is run on corporate lines, CEO Rahul Johri is constatly looking at ways to best achieve the goal, and also provide better infrastructure for cricket and improve value of all stakeholders

Photo Credit : Subhabrata Das


From a high-flying  television executive to the CEO of the world’s most cash-rich cricketing body, the Board of Cricket Control in India (BCCI), Rahul Johri’s career journey has been on an upward swing. But helming an organisation that controls the game that makes a billion hearts throb has its own set of highs and lows. Be that as it may, Johri has managed to walk the tight rope and won admirers, a few critics and some fierce enemies too in the process. Today, BCCI, under his leadership, is making more in terms of revenue than it did ever before. Johri has been praised for his no-nonsense attitude, and also often criticised for being the most expensive CEO in terms of remuneration. But nothing has ever stopped him from doing what he was mandated to do — make BCCI a more transparent and corporate organisation.

Ask him how hard is it for a top TV executive to don the role of CEO of a sporting body, pat comes the reply, “I don’t look at it like that. I look at one day at a time and I do everything that is required of me in that day.”

Changing Formats Across

Not just the BCCI but the game of cricket is changing too. In fact, it is said that the popularity of Indian Premier League (IPL) has created an ecosystem that encourages young players to focus more on T20 and not on the long format. However, Johri defends the approach saying, “Cricket is made up of three formats and everybody is engaged with all three forms of cricket. For us as sports administrators and sports rights holders, and for our partners as broadcasters and digital players, what we need to do is to figure out which is the optimal way of engaging with the audiences. Once the audience is engaged, how do we join the dots is the important issue.”

In yet another change,  the BCCI has made huge monetary gains in the last few years owing to closed bids over e-auctions. Though it had to face criticism for adopting this approach, Johri explains the rationale behind the closed bids approach and why it remains the best practice. “There are processes, the e-auction is an efficient process on its own and a sealed bid tender process is an efficient process on its own. However, the value in the last three tenders that we have managed to get has proven that the sealed envelope tender works. It may lack the drama of one guy trying to beat the other as it gets over quickly when the envelopes get opened, but it gets the best out of all the bidders. And the bargain delivers the best value,” states Johri.

The Rise Of Digital Viewership
If we look at the bids for the digital rights during the recently concluded IPL media rights auction, this year the digital players were far more aggressive to say the least. The rise of digital interest in cricket is being seen as a game changing development, especially when compared to television viewership.

“Five years down the line, digital might be buying television rights. We are prepared for it. We are rights sellers. Our job is to get the best value for our rights. So that is what we are focused on” explains Johri.

Key Priorities
For Johri, the immediate priority is to deliver the best infrastructure for cricket in India. He is also working to deliver the best value for the stakeholders and to make sure that India keeps dominating the world of cricket.

Explaining his vision for the BCCI, Johri says, “I believe BCCI has to be one of the biggest sporting bodies in the world. The BCCI is the biggest cricketing body in the world and the IPL is one of the biggest sporting leagues in the world. But we on the whole have to be amongst the top in the world.”

As cricket continues to grow in popularity, there is increasing scope to monetise it better and leverage it across platforms. About the future revenue growth areas for the BCCI, Johri says, “We are always looking at all probable options. At the BCCI level, we are focused on the sponsorship revenue and the media rights income. Of course, at all times we are looking at different revenue streams. Today, digital is growing, so we try to look if there is anything else in digital. We have some reserved rights that we can keep for ourselves because as technology develops, we can monetise those rights. So that is a continuous process as to how we can maximise the value of all our properties.”

(With inputs from Simran Sabherwal) 

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magazine 11 November 2017 Rahul Johri BCCI India