According to a reuters report on 20 February 2022, The global US digital giant Amazon Inc, is set to battle it out yet again with the Oil/Retail conglomerate Reliance Industries, this time in the field of media and entertainment as both Reliance and Amazon are set to take on on India units of Sony Group Corp and Walt Disney Co for exclusive five-year TV and digital broadcast rights to the IPL’s two-month series of matches, at a cost that could run to a record Rs 50,000 crore ($6.7 billion), sources familiar with the companies’ plans said.
Star India which is owned by the US based Disney is considered to be one of the top broadcasters in India alongside Sony and Zee Entertainment Enterprises. Star India had earlier paid Rs 16,348 crore for the digital and television rights until the year 2022. The IPL 2021 season total viewership reached 350 million users during the first half of the 2021 tournament alone.
Anton Rublievskyi who is the head of a betting company called “Parimatch” which had advertised during the matches in IPL 2021 season had said the following statement
“Cricket is the second biggest sport in the World with two and a half billion fans and IPL is like its Super Bowl and If you’re not there, you do not exist”
The battle for IPL broadcasting rights is now getting even bigger as traditional media firms like Star India are now going to face very stiff competition from two billionaire led big conglomerates with deep pockets to buy out the competition.
It’s also anything but a coincidence that India’s biggest retailer Reliance Industries is locked in a high profile courtroom battle with the US based eCommerce giant Amazon Inc, over the acquisition of assets of another big Indian retail group Future Group which owns Pantaloons, Big Bazaar and other brands and was started by Kishore Biyani.
Many punters, analysts and cricket fans who love to place bets on cricket matches and place betting rounds in casinos online are keenly following this battle closely which can very well decide if we will see a new broadcaster for IPL matches in 2022.
Apparently, Reliance is also in talks with big foreign investors and is looking to raise upto $1.6 billion dollars for its broadcasting joint venture company Viacom18.
According to a source close with Reliance, it is very important and critical for Reliance to win it’s bid for IPL broadcasting rights as it will directly impact and help in expanding Reliance’s Jio’s digital expansion plans. Through Viacom18, Reliance recently acquired the broadcast rights for the Spanish football league La-Liga and they have plans to launch a dedicated Sports channel soon.
On the other hand, Amazon Inc, which started live streaming of cricket matches with the recent New Zealand vs Bangladesh series on Amazon Prime Video is keen to win the IPL broadcasting rights in a bid in order to expand Amazon Prime Video’s user base. But as Amazon Prime Video lacks a TV platform and would need to bring in a TV partner or could only bid for the digital portion.
Let’s wait and watch to see if Star India retains IPL 2022 broadcasting rights or will we all see IPL on our television/mobile/laptop screens from a new broadcaster.