Viacom18 — a joint venture of Paramount, India’s Reliance Industries and Bodhi Tree Systems — has beat out Disney, among others, to win the streaming rights to the Indian Premier League.
The group paid a whopping $2.6 billion for the 410 cricket matches on the Indian subcontinent between 2023 and 2027, sources told The Times of India.
Disney, the current owner of both the streaming and TV rights for the league, inherited those in a five-year, $2.5-billion deal when Disney bought Fox in 2019.
While it has lost the streaming rights, Disney has agreed to pay a hefty $3 billion for its Star India network to keep exclusive television rights to the league’s games for the next five years, per the report. Ad sales for the television broadcasts have seen robust growth in recent years.
Bidding is reportedly still underway on other Premier League packages, including TV and digital rights outside of India.
For Disney, the loss of the streaming rights to the world’s largest cricket league could mean missing its target of reaching 230 million subscribers for Disney+ by September 2024.
With more than 30 million subscribers, the Hotstar segment of Disney+ has been a major driver of Disney+’s growth to more than 100 million global subscribers as of March, just 16 months after its launch.
Without the cricket coverage, Hotstar is expected to lose substantial numbers of subscribers.
However, with investors now increasingly shifting from a focus on subscriber growth to financial performance when it comes to streamers, the low average revenue per subscriber (ARPU) resulting from low-priced Hotstar subscriptions — 61 cents per month, compared to $6.30 in North America and $6.35 in other international markets — has become problematic for Disney.