MUMBAI: Viacom 18 will pay 9.51 billion Indian rupees ($117 million) for the media rights of the women’s Indian Premier League (IPL) for the next five years, the country’s cricket board (BCCI) announced on Monday. Viacom 18 outbid Disney Star, Sony and Zee among other broadcasters in a closed-bid auction in Mumbai, ESPNcricinfo reported, with the inaugural women’s IPL — a Twenty20 tournament — set to be played in March. “This is massive for women’s cricket,” BCCI secretary Jay Shah said on Twitter, adding that the bidding amount would have a per-match-value of 70.9 million Indian rupees ($870,393). A three-team Women’s T20 Challenge had been staged alongside the men’s IPL since 2018, but the BCCI had been urged to set up an expanded tournament for women with more teams and players. “After pay equity, today’s bidding for media rights for Women’s IPL marks another historic mandate,” Shah added. “It’s a big and decisive step for empowerment of women’s cricket in India, which will ensure participation of women from all ages.” In August last year, Disney Star won the rights to broadcast men’s and women’s International Cricket Council (ICC) events through to the end of 2027 in a deal reported to be worth $3 billion. In June, Disney-owned (DIS.N) Star India retained the television broadcast rights to the men’s IPL for $3 billion.