Amazon has decided to withdraw from the $7.7 billion race to win the media rights of the Indian Premier League, the Super Bowl of cricket. The Reliance Industries and Walt Disney Co. are now identified as the two frontrunners.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India has announced a separate bidding for the broadcast and streaming rights for the first time, in the IPL auction scheduled on 12 June. With the end goal to monopolize an Indian consumer market that is rapidly going online, the companies are therefore planning to win five-year telecasting and online streaming contracts in the Indian subcontinent.
Bezos has already invested more than $6 billion in India. Amazon officials explained further that more spending just for the online streaming rights to the league 'does not make business sense', Bloomberg reported.
The US giant was initially fixated on scoring a victory in the auction and had identified IPL among half a dozen global sports franchises, that have a strong influence on the masses. The company's surprise exit from the competition has left the field open to Ambani's Reliance, Walt Disney Co. and Sony Group Corp.
Ambani, the Indian business magnate, has already started developing his masterplan as he hired veterans like Anil Jayaraj, CEO of Reliance-backed Viacom18 Sports Business, and Gulshan Verma, CEO of Jio Ads. According to sources, the Reliance chief will be accompanied by his right-hand man, Manoj Modi and eldest son Akash Ambani, South China Morning Post reported.
In case of Disney, the mass media conglomerate is flying in top executives from its headquarters in Burbank, California to Mumbai especially for the auction, according to people familiar with the matter.
The company is already popular in the Indian market because of its acquisition of Hotstar, a streaming service very 'in demand' among cricket fans. This acquisition took place at the same time when Disney inherited 21st Century Fox in 2017.
The Indian Premier League, with a brand value of almost $6 billion, is a multiweek tournament typically held in April and May every year. Identified as one of the world's fastest-growing sporting events, it records nearly 600 million watchers every year.