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Asia's richest man bags IPL cricket digital rights for $2.6 bn


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|| AFP ||

Indian tycoon Mukesh Ambani has seen off competition from global media giants to bag the rights to stream the IPL for US$2.6 billion, a source at India’s cricket board told AFP on Tuesday.

Star India meanwhile, owned by US behemoth Disney, retained the television rights for the next five seasons of the Indian Premier League, one of the world’s most-watched sporting events, media reports said.

Together the two deals are reportedly worth about US$5.65 billion, dwarfing the US$2.55 billion that Star paid in 2017 for digital and TV rights for the previous five seasons of the annual two-month T20 contest.

Two other packages, for the international broadcast of the league and non-exclusive rights for certain matches, were still being auctioned off on Tuesday by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

Attracting some of world cricket’s top stars with bumper salaries, the pioneering IPL helped make Twenty20 – a shorter format of the sport – hugely popular, attracting hundreds of millions of viewers and spawning copycat events worldwide.

For his bid Ambani, Asia’s richest man, created the Viacom18 joint venture with US giant Paramount Global and an investment group backed by Australian media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s son James, reports said.

Sony, which televised the IPL for the first 10 years after its inception in 2008, had been in the race to get a share of the competition, which recently completed its 15th edition.

Jeff Bezos’s Amazon, which has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on rights for European soccer and American football, had earlier reportedly shown interest in the IPL but pulled out.