Up until this week, Disney Star, Viacom18 and Sony Pictures Networks (standalone) were the strongest contenders for the next cycle of the IPL media rights. However, it all changed on Wednesday, when news about a potential merger between ZEE and Sony emerged.
For ZEE, its a homecoming, after it had sold most of its sport content including channels, TEN Sports, to Sony Pictures Networks India in 2017. Since then, ZEE had opted out of any sport related content and instead putting its weight behind entertainment content on linear and digital platforms.
Now, with the IPL rights coming up for renewal, Disney Star’s dominance is being watched closely. Viacom18 is itself going all guns blazing for its soon-to-launch sports channel. Now, Sony Pictures Networks, which was the original broadcaster of the IPL, will return to the foray, this time with additional backing and weight from ZEE.
Talking to Times of India, a top media industry executive said, “Until last week, had you asked me how much the IPL rights would’ve gone for, I’d have probably said around US$3.5b (approx. Rs 25,000 crore). You ask me now and I’ll say it’ll crash past US$4.5b (around or in excess of Rs 30,000 crore).”
Meanwhile, a former Disney executive, who remained anonymous told Reuters, “For the first time there’s a viable challenge to Disney (in India).”
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