Amazon Prime goes for the jugular - plans bid for IPL, India cricket streaming rights

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Just as expected, Amazon Prime is looking to expand its cricket programming in India, and in fact may be going for the jugular by bidding for broadcasting rights of Indian national team's matches and the IPL (Indian Premier League).

Amazon Prime Video had made the first move last month after it acquired rights to telecast cricket matches between India and New Zealand last month from 2021 and 2026.

The rights to broadcast the IPL and Indian national cricket expire in 2023 and 2024 respectively. Amazon Prime Video's arch rival Disney+ Hotstar has the telecast rights currently.

Amazon Prime's sport push

According to a report in the Financial Times, Amazon Prime is considering further opportunities to secure cricket rights.

“Expanding into a space which the country loves makes sense,” Amazon Prime Video country manager Gaurav Gandhi told FT.

“I do feel that it does add an interesting dimension to our overall offerings . . . We’re happy to look at each individual opportunity that goes by”.

With the New Zealand cricket deal, Amazon Prime became the first streaming service in India to secure exclusive rights to broadcast from a major cricketing board. 

Amazon Prime Video has bet big on sports globally — live streaming events like Thursday Night Football, the Premier League, ATP Tour Events, and the US Open tennis.

This in addition to a selection of popular docuseries, including 'The Test: A New Era for Australia’s Team', which follows the Australian men’s cricket team during the 2018/2019 season, and Emmy-winning Amazon Original All or Nothing, among many others.

Amazon Prime Video had, however, allowed Fancode, an Indian digital sports platform for fans, to stream the ongoing New Zealand and West Indies cricket series.

But why the IPL and Indian cricket matches?

Cricket telecasts are major events in the Indian media. Matches involving the Indian national team get massive viewership across various platforms. The IPL, which is an Indian cricket board-helmed T20 tournament involving Indian city-based franchisees, is another huge draw in the Indian market. 

The Disney-owned Star/Hotstar platform is the one that dominates the cricket telecast/streaming segment in these parts. It has the rights to the Indian Premier League (IPL) until 2022. Star also has the rights to telecast/stream the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the International Cricket Council (ICC) matches until the 2022-23 season.

The company is expected to end 2020 with 28 million subscribers in India --- a good portion was acquired over the last two months of IPL telecasts.

Amazon Prime has 17 million subscribers for Prime Video and Netflix has 5 million.

While Netflix India seems to be taking the films and web series route --- another popular segment in India --- Amazon Prime Video in India, with its deep pockets, is focusing both the entertainment and cricket path for further growth in what is an emerging and lucrative market. 

Cricket is, of course, on the eyes of the emerging tech biggies. 

In 2017, Facebook Inc’s $600 million bid to broadcast Indian cricket matches did not succeed. Disney beat both Facebook and Sony Corporation  to secure the rights to broadcast IPL for $2.6 billion that year.

Facebook has, however, a digital content partnership with Sony Pictures Networks India (SPNI) for the Indian national cricket team’s current tour of Australia.

Balakumar K
Senior Editor

Over three decades as a journalist covering current affairs, politics, sports and now technology. Former Editor of News Today, writer of humour columns across publications and a hardcore cricket and cinema enthusiast. He writes about technology trends and suggest movies and shows to watch on OTT platforms.