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Fox’s Star India network has bagged global broadcasting and digital rights for the lucrative Indian Premier League cricket property for $2.55 billion, a bid that’s considered a record for the sport. Star outbid rival Sony Entertainment Network, which had held the rights for the last 10 years since the IPL was launched and became a runaway success, featuring some teams backed by Bollywood stars such as Shah Rukh Khan, who owns the Kolkata Knightriders.
Star India has won rights for the next five seasons of the IPL starting from 2018, when it will be broadcast on the network’s sports channels and on its video on demand platform Hotstar. Star already held streaming rights for IPL when they were first offered for bidding in 2015 for a period of three years. In this time, IPL has been a major source of traffic for Hotstar, making the VOD platform a formidable competitor to new entrants Amazon and Netflix, which launched in India last year.
Star offered a consolidated bid — the only bidder to do so — for both broadcast and digital rights, whereas rival Sony offered $1.75 billion only for broadcast rights. Facebook was also among the digital rights bidders, offering about $619 million.
“IPL is a very popular property and we believe a lot more value can be created for the fan across TV and digital,” Star India chief executive Uday Shankar told reporters at a press conference in Mumbai on Monday shortly after the results were announced. “We have significant presence in TV in India, a robust digital platform that we plan to take global and our channels are globally distributed,” he added.
The IPL is managed by the Board of Control for Cricket in India, which received 14 bids for television and digital rights for the auction.
The IPL will significantly boost Star’s cricket offerings given back in 2012, when the network won broadcasting and digital rights for other cricket matches hosted in India till March 2018. At the time, Star India offered a winning bid of about $757.6 million to the BCCI for tournaments featuring visiting teams from Australia, England, South Africa and Sri Lanka.
Star India also has rights for events organized by cricket’s parent body, the International Cricket Council, from 2015 to 2023, which include two cricket World Cups and two World Twenty20 events.
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