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Amazon, Reliance To Get Into A Bidding War For Cricket League Broadcasting Rights In India

Amazon, Reliance To Get Into A Bidding War For Cricket League Broadcasting Rights In India
Amazon's competition with Reliance Industries, an oil-to-retail giant in India, appears to be heading to the cricket pitch, where the two companies will likely compete for broadcasting rights to India's main cricket league, which has hundreds of millions of viewers.
According to reports quoting sources familiar with the strategies of the two companies, Inc and Reliance Industries Ltd will be competing with Sony Group Corp and Walt Disney Co's India unit for securing exclusive television telecast and digital broadcast rights for five years for the two-month long tournament with a series of matches, which could go for a record 500 billion rupees ($6.7 billion).
"Cricket is the second-biggest sport in the world with two-and-a-half billion fans and IPL is like its Super Bowl," said Anton Rublievskyi, head of Parimatch, a betting company that advertised at the Indian Premier League (IPL) last year. "If you're not there, you do not exist," he added.
A total of 163.48 billion rupees for the digital and television rights of the cricket tournament called the Indian Premier League (IPL) until 2022 had been paid for its digital and television rights by Star India, which is owned by Disney and is one of the largest broadcasters in the country alongside Sony.
Sony is set to acquire Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd., another doyen of the Indian broadcasting industry.   
During the first half of the 2021 season, the league's games attracted 350 million viewers.
Traditional media companies, on the other hand, are facing fierce competition from deep-pocketed rivals such as Reliance, India's largest retailer, and Amazon, two billionaire-led behemoths vying for the fast-growing e-commerce industry while developing their digital platforms. 
Amazon and Reliance are already embroiled in a bitter legal dispute over the assets of Future Group, a major Indian retailer.
Reliance is also in talks with overseas investors to raise up to $1.6 billion for its Viacom18 television joint venture.
"Winning this bid is critical to Reliance's long-term plans for its Jio platform and its digital expansion," said a source with direct knowledge of the company's strategy.
"Everything that has happened at Viacom18 in the last few months, like buying rights to the Spanish La Liga and setting up a sports channel, has been building up to this," the source said.
There were comments available from Reliance and Viacom18.
Reports also stated that Amazon wants to gain the IPL rights to boost the user base of the platform in India. Recently, Amazon's Prime Video platform had started to live stream cricket events.
There were no comments on the issue from Amazon.
Because the largest online relating company does not have a TV platform, it will either need to strike a partnership with a TV partner or will only be able to bid on the digital part of the deal only. The tender for rights was granted to a consolidated TV and digital venture from Star in 2017 by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), which outbid any of the combined individual bids.
Given the possibility for unprecedented payments by bidders, including a deep-pocketed digital-only operator like Amazon, industry sources expect the BCCI to be flexible.
In an interview with Reuters, BCCI secretary Jay Shah said the board has reviewed numerous models and offers, but he declined to comment on specifics or the potential cash value of the bids.
"We will do our best to derive the right value a tournament like the IPL deserves," he said.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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