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Sony Six in last lap of TV rights deal with Sri Lanka Cricket for India series

MUMBAI: Multi Screen Media’s (MSM) sports and entertainment channel Sony Six is in the final lap of signing an agreement with Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) for the upcoming home Test series between India and Sri Lanka, a source familiar with the development said.

Sony Six is believed to have bid around $2 million for the telecast rights.

ZEEL-owned Ten Sports is the official broadcast partner of SLC. However, the India series was not part of the deal.

Sri Lanka had pitched in to fill in the gap when the West Indies pulled out of the series against India in October 2014 due to conflict between the West Indian board and players.

In exchange, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) agreed to send its team to Sri Lanka for a short Test series in August 2015. Earlier, Sri Lanka was supposed to tour India for three Tests in August 2015.

SLC had floated tender for the three Test match series; however, it got only one bid and that too from its broadcast partner Ten Sports. As the sportscaster’s bid of a reported $1.4 million was not acceptable to the Sri Lankan board, it started talking to Star Sports and Sony Six in the hope of fetching a higher amount.

SLC seems to have found a perfect partner in Sony Six. What might have also worked in Sony Six’s favour is the BCCI’s tough stance against Essel Group boss Subhash Chandra, who is trying to set up a rebel cricket league.

Earlier, the BCCI had threatened to pull out of the Zimbabwe tour since Ten Sports was telecasting the series. However, it decided to fulfil its commitment, albeit by sending a B Team to the African nation.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) had also faced the wrath of the BCCI for hobnobbing with Ten Sports. The BCCI has threatened to pull out of the tour of Pakistan in December–January 2015–16 if Ten Sports is the broadcaster.

The BCCI’s tough stance had prompted PCB chairman Shahryar Khan to say that it was being unfairly targeted as other boards also had partnership with Ten Sports.

Earlier, Sony Six had secured the rights to the New Zealand–India series in January 2014. MSM is the official broadcaster of Indian Premier League (IPL) till 2017. It also holds the rights to the Caribbean Premier League (CPL).

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