No doubt, sports is a major binding force for many nations around the world. However, the exact type of sports varies significantly for different regions. For countries like England or Nigeria, the binding sport is obviously football or what Americans and Canadians call Soccer. However, for the U.S., it has to be American Football (different from soccer) or Basketball. For India, it is obviously Cricket. You can call India a “cricket crazy nation” and I don’t think Indians will be angry because they love Cricket. Top companies like Amazon, Disney, Sony, and others are jostling for its telecast right.
With a population of almost 1.4 billion, live Cricket streaming in India is obviously a very lucrative business. Many top conglomerates are interested in the telecast rights to the Indian Premier League. Of course, they would be, the price could be as high as $5 billion or more. According to a report, entertainment giants like Amazon.com Inc., Walt Disney Co., and Sony Group Corp will jostle to have this right. However, these will not be the only companies battling for the Indian Premier League telecast right.
Indian billionaire, Mukesh Ambani is putting together a consortium that will try to outbid the entertainment giants. The consortium may include some big and popular names in the entertainment industry. Reliance Industries anchored by Ambani is already in talks with Viacom Inc, its television partner to include the founder of Lupa Systems LLC as well as Comcast Corp, James Murdoch. Internal sources reveal that bids are likely to exceed 400 billion rupees ($5.3 billion), the people said.
The Indian Premier League or IPL is the Super Bowl of Cricket. The rights to the live Cricket streaming in India are open to non-Indian companies. As of last year, the IPL attracted about 380 million viewers. Thus, whoever gets the telecast rights will likely get millions of new subscribers. This bid is highly competitive and even big companies like Netflix struggle.
The major competition for Reliance will be Amazon, Sony, and Disney. There are reports that Amazon will join the bidding war which will be very intense this time. The company will boost its efforts and offerings for Amazon Prime.
With the acquisition of Star, Wlat Disney was able to secure the Indian Cricket League telecast right through 2022. The company will still be in contention this time. However, there will also be Sony, which should use Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd for bidding. Nevertheless, Sony’s bid will be subject to relevant clearance.
A spokesperson for Sony India said that the company Sony “will evaluate bidding for both broadcast and digital rights for the upcoming IPL,”. As of now, there is no official statement from Zee.
Although Reuters claims that Reliance and Amazon are looking to bid, there are no official comments from either of these companies. Comcast, Lupa, and Disney also did not issue any reply to requests for comment. The Board of Control for Cricket in India will allocate the rights for five years from 2023. The board will be expecting bids and a winner will be public in March or April.
Plans for the IPL
According to Ramsai Panchapakesan, senior vice president at Zenith, the addition of two new teams has “increased the number of the matches to 74 and longevity of playtime offers better monetization prospects for the next five years in the IPL,”. He further claims that the winner of the bid will comfortably recover their investment.
Live cricket streaming will be Reliance’s plan for the tournament using its digital platforms. The company will add other partners to the consortium later.
For Sony, it will stick with Zee to give their SonyLIV OTT service and television channels respectively a chance. There is already a Sony – Zee merger awaiting approval. Once the approval comes, there will probably be a joint IPL bid by Sony and Zee.
Back in 2020, Disney kicked off its Disney+ OTT service in India at the start of the IPL season. If Disney is to consolidate its market share in India, retaining IPL rights is very crucial.