Amazon and Reliance are eyeing IPL telecast rights

REUTERSUpdated: Monday, February 21, 2022, 09:56 AM IST
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Amazon's rivalry in India with oil-to-retail conglomerate Reliance Industries looks set to head to the cricket field, where they will likely battle media heavyweights for telecast rights to the Indian premier League.

Amazon and Reliance are expected to take on India units of Sony Group Corp and Walt Disney Co for exclusive five-year TV and digital broadcast rights to the twomonth 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.

"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 IPL last year.

"If you're not there, you do not exist."

Disney-owned Star India, which is one of the top broadcasters in India along with Sony and its planned acquisition Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd, paid Rs 16,348 crore for the digital and television rights until 2022. The league's matches reached 350 million viewers during the first half of the 2021 season alone.

But traditional media firms now face stiff competition from deep-pocketed rivals like Reliance, India's biggest retailer, and Amazon. Amazon and Reliance are already locked in a pitched courtroom battle over the acquisiton of assets of Future Group, another big India retailer.

Reliance is also in talks with investors, including foreigners, to raise up to $1.6 billion for its broadcasting joint venture, Viacom18. "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. Amazon, whose Prime Video platform recently began live-streaming cricket matches, wants to win the IPL rights to expand the platform's user base, another industry source familiar with the company's thinking said. An Amazon India spokesperson did not respond to a request for commen.

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