US-Indian joint venture Viacom18 was awarded on Thursday the right to broadcast all Indian international cricket matches at home through to 2029 in a $721 million deal, beating rival bidders Disney and Sony.
Media rights are a huge earner for the Board of Control for Cricket in India, one of the richest governing bodies in global sport owing to the game’s immense and fanatical local fanbase.
“Our underlying goal remains to strike a harmonious equilibrium between cricket and commercial interests,” board chief Jay Shah said in a statement announcing the deal.
“It’s the legacy we leave behind and the positive impact we create in our country’s cricketing ecosystem that truly matters.”
India plays 88 international matches over the rights period, translating to roughly $8.2 million per game under the Viacom18 deal.
ESPNCricinfo reported that the agreement priced the average match nearly 13 percent higher than the $944 million rights deal for 2018-23 signed by Star, Disney’s local subsidiary.
Star had held the rights to broadcast international matches since 2012 and was also a bidder in Thursday’s auction, along with Sony Sports.
But Viacom18 – a tie-up between Paramount Global and a media conglomerate owned by Asia’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani – has made a concerted push into the lucrative business.
The group bagged five-year digital broadcast rights for the Indian Premier League for $3.04 billion in 2022, while Star spent $3.01 billion to retain domestic television rights.
Since its first season in 2008, the flagship Twenty20 tournament has been a money-spinning bonanza for the BCCI, which last year reported a cash balance of $2.7 billion.
Last year’s IPL rights deal dwarfed the $2.55 billion Star India spent for exclusive rights for the previous five seasons to 2022.
Viacom18 also spent $116.7 million in January to secure five-year broadcast rights for the Women’s Premier League before the competition’s inaugural season.
Nita Ambani is the co-owner of the five-time IPL-winning Mumbai Indians franchise, whose women’s team also won this year’s inaugural WPL title.