Earlier this week, Disney was involved in a auction to win the streaming and television rights to the Indian Premier League for the next five years. While Disney was unsuccessful in retaining the cricket streaming rights for Disney+ Hotstar, which ended up going for $2.6 billion to the Viacom18 group, it did win the linear television rights for Star Sports for an estimated $3 billion.
Star India (which was owned by 20th Century Fox at the time) had previously paid $2.6 billion for both the streaming and linear rights five years ago, but the cricket association had decided to split the rights into different packages. With Viacom18 and Times Internet picking up some international rights as well.
Disney’s Chairman of International Content and Operations, Rebecca Campbell, said in a statement regarding the cricket rights.
“We are pleased to extend our association with the Indian Premier League and look forward to offering the next five seasons across our portfolio of television channels. We made disciplined bids with a focus on long-term value. We chose not to proceed with the digital rights given the price required to secure that package. IPL is an important component of our portfolio of television channels in India, providing an incredible opportunity for us to showcase The Walt Disney Company’s powerful global brands and iconic storytelling, as well as Disney Star’s impressive collection of local original content, to millions of viewers in India.
We will be exploring other multiplatform cricket rights, including future rights for the International Cricket Council (ICC) and Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), which we currently hold through the 2023 and 2024 seasons, respectively. Additionally, we hold Pro Kabaddi League rights, Indian Super League football rights, as well as various international sports rights, including the Wimbledon Championships and the English Premier League.
At the same time, we are focused on growing our robust slate of original entertainment content for Disney+ Hotstar and our television channels in the region.
Our vast portfolio of more than 70 television channels in India cuts across general entertainment, films, sports, infotainment, kids, and lifestyle content, reaching 90% of pay cable and satellite TV homes in the region.
Disney+ Hotstar has changed the way Indians watch their entertainment – from favorite locally produced original TV shows, to global blockbuster films, and popular sporting events. Last year, Disney+ Hotstar was home to seven of the Top Ten Hindi SVOD entertainment series in India, and we currently have more than 100 local original titles in our content pipeline — with over 80 local originals slated to premiere this fiscal year,”
Ultimately, its expected that the loss of the IPL cricket rights will result in millions of subscribers leaving Disney+ Hotstar, but with the cost of the rights doubling in price from when Star India purchased the rights, Disney decided the loss of subscribers wasn’t worth spending almost another $3 billion on.
Do you think Disney was right to pull out of bidding for the streaming rights to the IPL?