Disney loses rights to Indian Premier League

The streaming wars have begun in the United States, but they are no longer our game: Disney has lost the right to broadcast a sport more valuable to every game than baseball.

Disney just sniffed in the fourth inning of a first-class cricket match. The company has lost its efforts to retain the streaming portion of its multi-platform rights to the Indian Premier League (IPL), the popular cricket league it has been transmitting in writing and directly to the consumer since 2019.

This news might not resonate if you’re not among the 2.5 billion people worldwide who follow cricket, but here’s why it matters: On a quarterly earnings call last month, executives said 36 percent of Disney+’s total 137.7 million subscribers were From Disney + Hotstar, Disney’s Indian streaming service. Of the nearly 8 million subscribers who signed up for Disney+ in the last quarter, “slightly more than half” were from Disney+ Hotstar, “which benefited from the start of the new IPL season,” Disney CFO Kristen McCarthy said at May 11 call. . (Hotstar is also available in Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia.)

In India, cricket The The most popular sport. IPL is The Cricket League. Now, Disney has lost the IPL rights to Viacom18, a joint venture between rival Paramount and India’s Reliance Industries. Disney Star has won the IPL’s linear television rights, paying $3.02 billion at auction for a deal covering the next five years. Viacom18 has paid $2.62 billion for the digital rights, according to the Times of India.

While Paramount Global plans to launch Paramount+ in India next year, IPL matches will not be shown on the service, according to the Wall Street Journal. Instead, Viacom18 will broadcast matches on a separate platform that will be bundled with Paramount+ in order to push subscriptions to Paramount Global’s mass streaming mountain. Paramount previously announced a global broadcast subscription target of 100 million members between Paramount+ and Showtime by the end of 2024. IndieWire reached out to Paramount to see if the unnamed IPL platform would count in that many or add, but they didn’t immediately receive a reply.

It’s a big loss for Disney on a major platform, but McCarthy and its CEO Bob Chabek have laid the groundwork to assure investors that losing the IPL rights won’t hurt Disney’s goal of reaching 230 million to 260 million global subscribers by 2024.

“We will definitely try to extend our rights to the IPL,” Chappe said on a previous earnings call. “But we’re pretty confident that even if we don’t go ahead and win the auction, we can still make our 230 to 260.”

However, the numbers speak for themselves. Disney and Viacom18 have spent a combined $5.64 billion on the rights to cricket and its ability to appeal to Indian audiences. This makes the IPL’s value per game $13.5 million, making it the second most expensive sports game after the NFL ($36 million), ahead of the Premier League ($11.23 million) and Major League Baseball ($9.57 million), according to it. for Forbes.

The outcome of the auction awarding a smaller package of non-exclusive IPL broadcasting rights has yet to be determined, according to a New York Times report. IndieWire has reached out to representatives from Disney, Paramount Global, and the IPL regarding this story, but we did not immediately receive a response. (In other words, cockroaches).

India, with a population of 1.38 billion, is the second largest country in the world. Internet use — and live streaming — is on the rise there; It’s on track to increase 45 percent between 2021 and 2025 to 900 million users, according to The Economic Times. For comparison, more than 90 percent of the 332.78 million people in the United States use the Internet.

In addition to cricket, cheap subscriptions support Disney’s growth in India. In December, Disney+ Hotstar slashed prices, with subscriptions now starting at less than $1. Fortunately, the ads complement that, and viewers in poor countries like India have proven willing to sit through commercials to get access to it at reasonable rates. In the US, Disney+ is launching a cheaper AVOD (ad-supported video-on-demand) option later this year.

We should get more info about that level — and an update on the lofty goal for Disney live subscribers — this summer.

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