Ambani Joint Venture
. and American media giant Paramount Global instead focused on securing digital broadcast rights for the lucrative Indian Premier LeagueI believe its advertising revenue will be four times that of television in five years, said a person familiar with the group’s strategy. It was thought that television would have a hard time delivering double-digit growth, according to a man who didn’t want his name brought up in private discussions.
While Viacom18 Media Pvt., an Ambani-Paramount joint venture, bid for television rights in the early rounds of the auction, the person said the focus has always been on securing digital rights. representative
declined to comment on the auction strategy.
Viacom18 paid 238 billion rupees ($3.1 billion) for the rights to broadcast the IPL tournament, one of the most watched sporting events in the world, almost on par with what Disney forked out. The decision aligns with Ambani’s ambitions for its Jio digital arm. The billionaire, currently India’s richest man, wants to create a consumer ecosystem that combines entertainment and e-commerce to attract local users who are increasingly attached to their smartphones.
The decision to forgo TV rights has saved Reliance billions of dollars, funds that could potentially be used to boost the conglomerate’s chances at an upcoming auction in India for 5G spectrum. A valuable cricket broadcast that could add millions of subscribers streamed over a high-speed wireless network could be a powerful mix for Jio’s turbo.
Jay Shah, head of India’s Cricket Control Board, said in a separate interview that the country could have 900 million internet users in five years, highlighting the potential of digital rights. While television has been the primary source of entertainment in Indian middle-class homes, the past few years have seen a rapid shift towards online streaming, a trend exacerbated by the pandemic.
Reliance will use its IPL rights as a tactical asset to build streaming and digital platforms including Wut, Gio and others, the man said. Viacom18 has already secured media rights to football, badminton, tennis and basketball events, giving it a diverse portfolio of sports assets.