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Reliance-backed Viacom18 bags rights to stream IPL for five years. Here’s what you need to know.

Viacom18 pips Disney to bag IPL digital rights for Rs. 22,500 crore giving the former a chance to stream IPL across India for 5 years.

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The right to stream the Indian Premier League (IPL) online has been bagged by Viacom18— the company which runs the streaming service Voot, according to a report in TechCrunch. The TV rights, on the other hand, have been picked up by Disney, the report added.

Why it matters: IPL is one of the most lucrative cricket leagues in the world and probably the most sought-after media property in India. This auction is also significant because it is the first time since Times Internet won the bid in 2013 that the IPL has had two separate entities for TV and digital respectively.

How much did Viacom18 and Disney pay: The TV rights, Package A, were picked for Rs. 23,575 crore ($3 billion) by DisneyStar, as per a report in Economic Times. The company is paying nearly Rs 57.5 crore per match,

  • The digital rights, Package B, were sold for a total of Rs. 20,500 crore ($2.63 billion) to Viacom18 which counts Reliance, Uday Shankar, and James Murdoch among its investors. The company will be coughing up nearly Rs. 50 crore per match, ET reported.
  • The rights allow the bidder to broadcast over 350 matches in India over five years starting from 2023 till 2027, ET wrote in its report.

How much did companies pay in the last auction: The per match value of an IPL game for the new rights cycle has nearly doubled from Rs. 54.23 crore Star India had paid for the 2018-22 cycle.

  • The rights in the new cycle have been bought for Rs 107.5 crore per match, as per ESPNCricinfo.
  • The BCCI raked in Rs. Rs. 44,075 crore in this auction. The total value of the IPL rights has more than doubled this year compared to the amount of Rs. 16,347.5 crore paid last time.
  • The combined figure puts the IPL close to some of the major leagues like NBA and EPL in terms of per match value, the report added.

What does it mean for Voot: The digital rights are likely to provide a significant boost to Voot which recently signed a deal with Bodhi Tree Systems for an investment of Rs.13,500 crore (roughly $1.78 billion) to help pivot Indian media to a “streaming-first” approach.

  • The deal was to shore up Viacom18’s bid to acquire the rights to broadcast the Indian Premier League (IPL). It was reported that Reliance was keen to acquire streaming rights to IPL.
  • The investment also offered Viacom18 a chance to use Uday Shankar’s experience in drafting a bid. He was at the helm of Star for a decade before he quit in 2020. It was during Shankar’s tenure that Star won the rights to broadcast IPL in 2017.
  • Viacom18 does not have exclusive rights to IPL’s entire slate as it has not won the bid for Package C which consists of non-exclusive matches that includes the tournament opener, weekend evening matches, and the four playoffs, including the final, ESPNCricinfo explained. The report added that Package D consists of rights to broadcast IPL in the rest of the world.
  • It will be imperative for Viacom18 to win the bid for Package C so as to ensure that it does not risk losing its audience to a different bidder. Moreover, the winner of Package B has the choice of challenging the highest bidders of Packages C and D each with their own bids, the report added.

How will Disney+ Hotstar cope with the loss of digital rights: It will be a significant blow for Disney+ Hotstar which attracted a lot of subscribers on the back of IPL.

  • It was always going to be difficult for all the bidders as it pitted major companies with deep pockets like Viacom18, Sony-Zee combine, Disney, and Amazon against each other.
  • In an earnings call recently, Disney CEO Bob Chapek had said that the company would try to extend its IPL rights but had plans in place if it were to lose the IPL broadcast rights.
  • He assured investors that the company will still be able to achieve its target of 230 to 260 million subscribers by 2024. However, this could prove to be difficult to meet the target without the inclusion of IPL in its content library.
  • Chapek had added that IPL is “an important part of the Disney+ Hotstar content offering” but it’s “one component of a broader portfolio of entertainment and sports”.
  • He also said that he was banking on the company’s local content slate to mitigate the impact of the possible loss of IPL broadcast rights.

What about Amazon and Google: The auction was a closely contested affair in which Amazon and Google had also shown interest. They had picked up the tender document but did not submit technical bids, according to a report in Economic Times.

  • A source informed ET that the tech players did not come to the table because of the introduction of the nonexclusive package.
  • “First of all, they kept a very high reserve price and on top of it, the digital rights are not exclusive. This has irked a few players,” he was quoted as saying.

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I cover several beats such as Crypto, Telecom, and OTT at MediaNama. I can be found loitering at my local theatre when I am off work consuming movies by the dozen.

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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