Indian tycoon Ambani bags new $721 mln cricket rights in faceoff with Disney

MUMBAI, (Reuters): Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s broadcasting unit has won rights to televise and live stream the Indian cricket team’s bilateral matches for $721.41 million, in what is the latest face off in a cricket mad nation with Walt Disney, which earlier held these rights.

Reliance Industries-owned joint venture Viacom18, which owns the popular Indian Premier League Twenty-20 (IPL T20) tournament’s digital streaming rights, won the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI) media rights for international and domestic games from September 2023 to March 2028, BCCI said on Thursday.

These are the latest cricket rights bagged by Ambani after he snatched IPL digital rights away from the Disney Plus Hotstar streaming service in a $2.9 billion bid last year, and then streamed games for free, driving out Disney’s subscribers.

This also set off intense competition with Disney deciding to show the ongoing Asia Cup cricket tournament for free on smartphones.

“A single entity securing both TV and digital rights is mutually advantageous as it enhances negotiating leverage in contrast to two separate players, which fuels competitive rivalry, dampening overall revenue,” said Elara Capital analyst Karan Taurani.

The hotly contested BCCI media rights were previously held by Disney Plus Hotstar, which is now in the midst of a streaming war with Viacom18’s JioCinema.

BCCI’s statement did not mention any other bidders.

Disney did not bid aggressively for the rights as it sees a decline in viewership for such matches and is instead looking to focus on profitability in India, a source with direct knowledge told Reuters.

Disney did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment.

Last year, Disney renewed its media rights to show the International Cricket Council’s tournaments in India from 2024 to 2027 after winning a bid for $3 billion. It later licensed the TV broadcast rights to India’s Zee Entertainment and only regained the digital streaming rights, a source told.

You May Also Like