IPL telecast rights: Bids will be presented to India’s Board of Control for Cricket, which will assign the rights for a five-year period beginning in 2023.
The winner is expected to be announced at the end of March or the beginning of April.
Mukesh Ambani’s conglomerate is forming a partnership to outbid Amazon.com Inc., Walt Disney Co., and Sony Group Corp. for the television rights to the Indian Premier League, a prize that might be worth $5 billion or more in the cricket-crazed country of roughly 1.4 billion people.
According to sources familiar with the development who asked not to be identified because the conversations are private, Reliance Industries Ltd. and its television partner, Viacom Inc. are in talks to add James Murdoch-founded Lupa Systems LLC as well as Comcast Corp. in the partnership. Bids are expected to reach 400 billion rupees ($5.3 billion), according to the sources.
Amazon will enter the bidding war as it seeks to improve its Amazon Prime sports offerings, according to two sources. According to two additional sources, Walt Disney, which gained the event’s telecast rights through 2022 with the acquisition of Star, would compete, while Sony is expected to bid with Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd. pending regulatory approvals on their proposed merger.
Details may change as discussions continue. The bids will be presented to India’s Board of Control for Cricket, which will award the rights for a five-year period beginning in 2023. The winner is expected to be announced at the end of March or the beginning of April.
A spokeswoman for Sony’s Indian unit said the company “will assess bidding for both broadcast and digital rights for the 2019 IPL.” Zee did not respond to a request for comment. Requests for comment from Reliance, Comcast, Lupa, Amazon, and Disney were not immediately returned. According to Reuters, Reliance and Amazon are among those interested in bidding for the broadcast rights.
The battle for the Indian Premier League, or IPL, a popular event dubbed the Super Bowl of cricket, highlights the competition among streaming companies for eyeballs in the world’s largest consumer market. The IPL attracted 380 million viewers last year, and whoever gets telecast rights will undoubtedly gain millions of new subscribers in a fiercely competitive market where companies like Netflix Inc. have struggled.
In March 2020, at the commencement of the IPL season, Disney launched its Disney+ OTT service in India, calling it “opportune timing.” The IPL rights must be retained in order for the company to maintain its market position in India.
Sony and Zee will compete to grow their separate SonyLIV OTT service and television networks. In December, Sony Pictures Networks India Pvt. reached a definitive agreement to purchase 50.86 percent of Zee Entertainment which is pending regulatory approval. Once completed, the merger will clear the path for Sony and Zee to jointly bid for the IPL. According to one of the persons, Reliance is aiming to stream the event on its digital channels, and more partners may join the consortium later.
The Indian Premier League (IPL) is a shorter version of cricket that takes place in venues with tens of thousands of spectators. Unlike the usual, more staid version of cricket, which lasts five days and includes a tea break, the games feature merchandising and a carnival atmosphere.