Star vs Sony : The cricket battle continues

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Sony Pictures Network India has got a shot in the arm by acquiring the Cricket Australia broadcast right for the Indian sub-continent till 2023. The broadcaster that lost out Indian Premier League to rivals Star India after running and creating the precious property in its formative years cycle, is working on to strengthen its cricket portfolio now.

The South Africa, Australia, Sri Lanka, West Indies and Zimbabwe rights ensure that the SPN will have at least one or two India series annually. Six of the ten Test-ICC full member nations media rights currently rest with the SPN. Of these, Pakistan Cricket Board is one property with precious little value for the Indian viewer. In competition Star is placed in a precious position with IPL in its kitty.

However, Ruport Murdoch’s Fox Sports monopoly will be challenged as its BCCI contract comes up for a renewal early next year. That one property has the real potential to be the leveler in cricket rights’ battle between the two arch rivals.

“No doubt Cricket Australia is an important property. Sony has benefited from the fact that the incumbent Star did not make a serious bid. But the BCCI and ECB rights coming up for grabs next season will be the clincher for the top two Indian broadcasters. Even though Star’s basket appears full following the IPL acquisition, we may still see an intense battle for the BCCI rights. It is like a make or break scenario for Sony, but Star too will make a serious attempt to reinforce its cricket monopoly,” says Ashish Chadha, a media rights syndication veteran and Sporty Solutionz chief executive.

It will be interesting to see how aggressively Star will bid to retain its BCCI rights after an INR 16,347 crore commitment to run IPL over the next five seasons. For Sony, no doubt it is going to be a make or break. Yet another windfall for the BCCI in the intense turf battle between the leading sportscasters in the country.