The playing field in Indian sports broadcasting seems levelling fast with Sony Pictures Network India (SPN) picking up the English Cricket Board (ECB) media rights for the 2018-22 tenure. The rights earlier rested with Star India. With this, SPN now has access to media rights from seven cricket boards including Australia, Pakistan, West Indies, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, South Africa and England.
This agreement with ECB gives SPN the rights to both televise and digitally broadcast within the Indian subcontinent, men’s and women’s international matches, including Test matches, T20 Internationals and ODIs, played in England.
Matches in the 2018-22 period include more than 80 international men’s and women’s matches, India’s tour of England this summer. This includes five Test matches, three ODIs and three T20 Internationals, all with real-time and live match telecast across Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, apart from India.
Tom Harrison, Chief Executive Officer, ECB said, “Today’s announcement means millions of cricket fans across the Indian subcontinent can follow their favourite team in action the next time they tour England – as well as enjoying access to iconic cricketing contests like next year’s Ashes. It will also help further raise the global profile of the English game – giving both the England men’s and women’s teams valuable exposure in a part of the world where people are passionate about cricket and avid followers of the global game as well as their own national team.”
SPN operates 11 sports channels in the country under the umbrella of Sony Pictures Sports Network - Sony Six, Sony Six HD, Sony ESPN, Sony ESPN HD, Sony Ten 1, Sony Ten 1 HD, Sony Ten 2, Sony Ten 2 HD, Sony Ten 3, Sony Ten 3 HD, and Sony Ten Golf HD.
N P Singh, Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer, SPN said, “The acquisition of media rights of ECB for a five-year term, effective now through 2022, provides for some exciting cricket viewership. This term of ECB games includes three tours of the Indian cricket team which promises some thrilling cricket, the first of these coming close on the heels of the hugely exciting South Africa series. SPN will now be home to almost all international away series giving our fans a one-stop destination to view their favourite stars in action.”
Rajesh Kaul, President, Sports and Distribution Business, SPN, “It’s a prestigious board to have and it helps us sustain a robust sports calendar throughout the year. We have almost 1,000 days of cricket over the next four odd years and that is an exciting proposition for advertisers as well. It also reduces our dependence on the BCCI media rights. A stronger cricket and overall sports portfolio, will also help with ad-sales and distribution.”
The Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) media rights are up for review as Star India’s current contract with the governing body of Indian cricket matures on March 31. BCCI has already floated the tender for the said rights and is expected to reveal the winning bids in the coming weeks.
Last September, the Indian Premier League (IPL) media rights auction created a major disruption as Star India walked away with global television and digital rights for an amount of Rs 16.35 billion. Back then, SPN seemed to be on the backfoot when it came to cricket since the IPL was the centrepiece of its cricket portfolio. Since then, it has however caught up, snapping up the media rights to Cricket Australia, Cricket South Africa and now ECB.
Apart from seven cricket boards, SPN currently holds the rights to international events like the Commonwealth Games and FIFA events.