MUMBAI: Close on the heels of losing the Indian Premier League (IPL) media rights, Sony Pictures Networks India (SPNI) has strengthened its cricket portfolio with the acquisition of Cricket Australia media rights for six years for the Indian sub-continent till 2023.
The Cricket Australia rights were earlier held by Star India. With this acquisition, Sony will have rights to six cricket boards. It already owns the rights to Cricket South Africa (CSA), Sri Lanka Cricket, Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) and Zimbabwe Cricket.
The media rights for all men’s international matches played in Australia will begin with the Magellan Ashes Series in November 2017. The deal will cover multiple Indian tours and visits by Pakistan, South Africa and the Ashes of 2021-22.
Separately, SPN has also acquired the media rights for women’s international cricket played in Australia, beginning with the Commonwealth Bank Ashes later this month, along with the KFC BBL (Big Bash League) and the Rebel WBBL (Women’s Big Bash League).
SPN will have extensive access to content from Cricket Australia’s archives and some original programming from the newly-created CA Productions team.
The agreement for the Indian subcontinent covers a number of countries, including Pakistan and Sri Lanka, and SPN will broadcast Australian cricket via its sports network of 11 channels.
Sony, which has identified sports as a strong pillar of growth, had un-successfully bid for the Indian Premier League (IPL) India TV rights. Sony’s bid of Rs 11,050 crore came a cropper as Star won the media rights till 2022 with a consolidated bid of Rs 16,347.5 crore.
Sony is expected to aggressively bid for the BCCI rights, which will come up for renewal shortly. Star holds the BCCI media rights till 31 March 2018. Apart from cricket, Sony also holds rights to properties like FIFA, UEFA, WWE, UFC, and NBA.
Sony’s Sports Network comprises of 11 sports channels namely SONY SIX, SONY SIX HD, SONY ESPN, SONY ESPN HD, SONY TEN 1, SONY TEN 1 HD, SONY TEN 2, SONY TEN 2 HD, SONY TEN 3, SONY TEN 3 HD, SONY TEN GOLF HD
Sony Pictures Networks India CEO NP Singh said, “SPN is committed to redefining the sports broadcasting landscape in the Indian subcontinent by curating a multi-sport culture. Our sports network comprising of 11 channels will offer something for everyone. Cricket enjoys a high viewership in India and with the acquisition of the media rights of Cricket Australia, we are ensuring that the viewer has continuous cricketing action, all through the year.”
Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland said, “We are delighted to conclude this agreement with Sony. They understand the global value of Australian cricket. We’re also delighted with their support of our national women’s team, and the men’s and women’s Big Bash. Our summer of Big Bash will continue to expand and highlight the excitement and quality of our game. One of Australian cricket’s key strategies is to ensure it has a sustainable approach to investment, so that we can keep growing the game, and the six-year deal with SPN is part of that strategy.”
Sony Pictures Networks India President, Sports and Distribution Business Rajesh Kaul said, “Cricket Australia complements our existing portfolio of five International Cricket Boards further positioning us as the premier destination for the sport. The content line-up across the six boards strengthens our position in cricket broadcasting. Cricket fans can look forward to a full season of cricketing sporting action on our network.”
Cricket Australia’s Executive General Manager of Broadcasting, Digital Media and Commercial Ben Amarflo commented, “CA’s Media Rights & Broadcasting team is thrilled to have inked a deal with Sony as the new media rights partner for the subcontinent region, taking in key markets such as India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan over the next six years. We hope that cricket fans throughout this region will thoroughly enjoy seeing Australian cricket, particularly what has become probably the fiercest rivalry in world cricket – Australia v India. We will have numerous tours by India over the next few years, along with Australia playing against other subcontinental cricket teams.”
“Sony is a world class sports broadcaster and has done an exceptional job growing cricket in India with its ground-breaking broadcasting of the IPL and its widespread coverage of international cricket. To have our international and domestic cricket carried on such a premium sports platform as SPN is hugely important to the continued growth and promotion of Australian and bi-lateral cricket in the region. We are looking forward to being a part of Sony’s elite cricket stable and it all kicks off next month with the Ashes.”