The Indian Premier League — the world’s most lucrative cricket league — begins its first full- fledged season since 2019, and its media rights holders are battling for a massive domestic media market.
In June, Viacom18 — a joint venture between Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries, Paramount, and investment group Bodhi Tree Systems — won the streaming rights to IPL by beating out Disney with a reported five-year, $2.6 billion contract at auction.
Disney didn’t come away empty-handed, taking home the traditional TV rights for a reported $3 billion. But Viacom18 is planning an “all-out assault on TV” for the IPL season, according to the Financial Times.
It starts with its streaming service JioCinema, which is planning to show IPL matches entirely for free, relying only on advertising for revenue. It wants to make JioCinema “the default destination for most people,” as it pertains to cricket.
Disney will use its Star TV network to broadcast games — but it stands to lose as many as 20 million subscribers from its Disney+ Hotstar streaming service now that it has lost the digital streaming rights, per Media Partners Asia.
The race to land viewers is very important to these media conglomerates — but, at least for this season, it will likely come at a steep cost.