HomeBUSINESSDisney Star licenses ICC’s Men’s events to ZEEL

Disney Star licenses ICC’s Men’s events to ZEEL


Disney Star, which won television broadcasting and digital streaming rights for the men’s and women’s events of International Cricket Council (ICC), including the World Cup, in a closed bid recently, has given up its TV rights to Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd, the two broadcasters said on Tuesday. Disney Star had paid close to $3 billion for the matches to be played during 2023-27.

The two companies entered a strategic licencing agreement under which Disney Star will give the television broadcasting rights to ZEEL for the ICC Men’s and Under 19 (U-19) global events for four years.

Disney Star will continue to be the exclusive rights-holder for streaming all ICC tournaments on Disney+ Hotstar. ICC has in-principle approved this arrangement, the company said in a statement.

The deal will allow ZEE get access to ICC men’s tournaments, including Men’s T20 World Cup in 2024 and 2026, the Champions Trophy (2025) and ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup (2027) along with the U-19 events.

In a “first-of-its-kind partnership in the Indian media and entertainment landscape …the association with Disney Star reflects our sharp, strategic vision for the sports business in India. As a one-stop television destination for ICC men’s cricket events till 2027, ZEE will leverage the strength of its network to offer a compelling experience for its viewers and great return on investment for its advertisers,” Punit Goenka, managing director and chief executive officer of Zee Entertainment, said.

Long-term profitability and value-generation are the company’s areas of focus across the business. It will make sports a compelling value proposition for the network, he added.

“By securing IPL television broadcast rights for 2023-27 and now opting to retain only the digital rights for ICC tournaments for 2024-27, we have in place a balanced and robust cricket offering for our audiences across linear and digital,” said K. Madhavan, country manager and president, Disney Star.

The company has managed to reach cricket to diverse age groups and cultural demographics, he added. “As India’s leading media house, we will continue to do so with a strong portfolio of cricket properties across television and digital.”

Disney Star’s current portfolio also includes the television rights for IPL (2023-27), television and digital rights for Cricket Australia (2023-2030), television and digital BCCI rights (2023) and television and digital rights for Cricket South Africa (end of 2023-2024).

A person familiar with the strategic tieup between the rivals said after losing digital media rights of the Indian Premier League in June to Viacom18, Disney Star felt there was an imbalance between its cricket offering on linear TV and digital platform. “So it was very clear from the start that if it won both ICC rights, it will not keep TV,” the person said.

“If you own an expensive and large property like IPL and then you load on another expensive and large property like ICC, the incremental benefit from the second property is not so much for TV. This is because the new property will be solely dependent on advertising revenue as a consumer will not pay extra in subscription money if he’s taken the sports channel to watch IPL and then you add on ICC,” he explained.

Not just that, unlike in IPL, in ICC games if the Indian team loses early, both viewership and ad revenue could get affected. So it made perfect sense for Disney Star to hedge its bets by licensing the TV rights, said the person.

For ZEEL, which is waiting for regulatory clearances for its merger with Sony, ICC events make sense as the broadcaster does not have cricket on its network.

Media industry estimates suggest that of the $ 3 billion Disney Star paid to ICC for the composite rights, 40% was roughly for TV rights. “The money that was paid by Star for the ICC media rights, the competing figures were less than half of that, I believe the money was committed from Hotstar’s point of view rather than TV to grow the former. Even for Zee, it’s an easy entry where they may not have been able to buy a package on their own. But the overall issue with most of these valuations is that they are not ROI driven,” said Joy Bhattacharjya, sports marketing expert and CEO, Prime Volleyball League.

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