Times Internet Logo
Times of India Group’s digital arm Times Internet has acquired a majority stake in the online cricket site CricBuzz for an undisclosed amount, reports, well, The Times of India.

While the terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, Times Internet will be merging CricBuzz with its newly launched cricket site GoCricket. Times Internet mentions that it will be using CricBuzz’s expertise in the cricket segment along with its editorial content across text, photos, and videos to build a “great user experience around cricket.”

CricBuzz LogoReaders should note that apart from the media business, Cricbuzz also has a services business, wherein it provides Cricket scores to multiple entities, including portals, mobile VAS companies and telecom operators.

It’s not clear whether Times Internet also retain the CricBuzz brand considering it is a better known brand among consumers, as compared to GoCricket which is only few months old. Although, frankly GoCricket is a better name as compared to CricBuzz.

Times of India joins the battle over the right to publish live Cricket scores and commentary

With this acquisition, the Times of India has joined the battle with STAR India, over the ownership of Cricket scores, and the freedom for media businesses to provide live commentary. Star India had taken CricBuzz founder Piyush Agarwal to court, along with OnMobile over reporting of Cricket Scores in September 2012. The case is now at the Supreme Court of India, after STAR had lost at the division bench level. It had also filed a fresh case against CricBuzz in March this year. To understand how STAR is claiming rights over Cricket scores, read this. MediaNama’s stand on this issue, and why we’re worried about this case is detailed here.

The injunction passed by the Supreme Court stated that websites had to file Rs 10 lakh per match, if it wanted to provide scores and commentary live, and given that the case hasn’t still been decided, we wonder if the burden of paying Rs 10 lakh per match over what may be a long time, meant that the viability of Cricbuzz was in question. Advertisers would be hesitant about sponsoring sites with delayed scores. With financial strength of the Times of India group backing the company, providing live commentary might no longer be an issue.

At the same time, remember that Times Internet had licensed online streaming for the IPL to STAR this year, which had used this to promote its online sports portal StarSports.com. Note that this is the last IPL that Times Internet will have the rights to, and there will be a fresh auction by the BCCI. Considering the investment STAR is making in Cricket, right from buying BCCI rights to sponsoring the Indian Cricket Team, one could expect STAR to bid for IPL rights in the next auction.

To us, this acquisition of Cricbuzz indicates that Times Internet is putting its money behind the group’s core competency – reporting – rather than acquiring rights for streaming exclusive content.