Amazon’s competition with Reliance Industries, an oil-to-retail giant in India, is expected to spill over onto the cricket field, where they will likely compete for telecast rights to the Indian Premier League (IPL), which attracts hundreds of millions of people.
According to sources familiar with the companies’ plans, Amazon.com Inc and Reliance Industries Ltd are expected to compete with Sony Group Corp and Walt Disney Co for exclusive five-year TV and digital broadcast rights to the two-month series of matches, which could cost a record Rs 50,000 crore ($6.7 billion).
“With two-and-a-half billion fans, cricket is the second-largest sport in the world, and the IPL is like its Super Bowl,” said Anton Rublievskyi, CEO of Parimatch, a betting business that promoted at the IPL last year.
The digital and television rights were purchased for Rs 16,348 crore by Disney-owned Star India, which is one of India’s biggest broadcasters alongside Sony and its planned acquisition Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd.
During the first half of the IPL 2021 season, the league’s games attracted 350 million viewers all over the world.
Traditional media companies, on the other hand, are facing fierce competition from deep-pocketed rivals such as Reliance, India’s largest retailer, and Amazon, two billionaire-led behemoths vying for the fast-growing e-commerce industry while developing their digital platforms.
Amazon and Reliance are already embroiled in a bitter legal dispute over the assets of Future Group, a major Indian retailer.
Reliance is also in talks with overseas investors to raise up to $1.6 billion for its Viacom18 television joint venture.
Another industry source familiar with Amazon’s thinking claimed the business wants to gain the IPL rights to boost the platform’s user base. Amazon’s Prime Video platform recently began live-streaming cricket events. A request for comment was not returned by an Amazon India spokesperson.
Because the company does not have a TV platform, it will either need to bring in a TV partner or will only be able to bid on the digital piece. The tender was granted to a consolidated TV and digital bid from Star in 2017 by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), which outbid any of the individual bids.