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Reliance entry into sports broadcasting becoming reality, Star Sports Sales Head hired as a CEO

As being reported continuously for the last few months, Reliance’s entry into the world of sports-broadcasting is looking like a reality now. Viacom18, a joint venture between American entertainment conglomerate ViacomCBS and Mukesh Ambani’s Network18 has hired Star Sports EVP Ad Sales Anil Jayaraj as CEO of Sports Business. It is worth noting that, Jayaraj has been instrumental in commercially monetizing big cricket properties like Indian Premier League (IPL), BCCI & ICC Cricket for his ex-employers i.e Disney Star Sports.

Jayaraj had quit Star Sports in July after an almost 6.5 year stint.

Meanwhile the entertainment broadcaster has acquired rights to LaLiga, Italy’s Serie A and France’s Ligue1 and Abu Dhabi T10 league in last few months & it is being speculated that the announcement of the new channel will be made soon.

Why Reliance’s entry into Sports-Broadcasting looking like a reality? Not only Anil but in past few months various executives from the rival networks have already been offered roles for the new sports channel. As reported recently by, Disney+ Hotstar SVP & Head of Advertising, Gulshan Verma has joined JioAds as CEO.

It is worth noting that Viacom 18 in which Network18’s broadcasting subsidiary TV18 owns a majority stake (also owned by Reliance) had recently acquired the rights of LaLiga, Italy’s Serie A and France’s Ligue1 and Abu Dhabi T10 league.

Other than this events like Road Safety World Series, Carabao Cup and few other rights are also in the portfolio of the network.

Reliance interests in Sports:
Reliance has emerged as one of the key player in the Indian Sports industry via its on-ground, marketing, sporting IP’s initiatives –

  • Reliance owns IPL team Mumbai Indians
  • Reliance owned entity owns Indian Super League (ISL)
  • Reliance also had a Joint Venture in India with Global Sports Marketing giants IMG. The entity is now 100% owned by the Indian promoters and is called RISE
  • Reliance promoted – Reliance JIO has weaved in partnerships with various sports rights including BCCI Rights to be streamed on their platform.
  • Reliance Jio also had placed direct bids for both IPL Rights & BCCI digital rights in past.

In an recent interview when Nina Elavia Jaipuria, Head of Hindi Mass Entertainment at Viacom 18 Media was asked the question, ‘Will Viacom18 launch its sports channel sometime soon?’ She replied saying, “We are always exploring white spaces.”

She further added, “We are getting into sports to evoke emotion, to establish ourselves as a wholesome entertainer. However, launching a sports portfolio is a tough, expensive business call as it has a very high entry barrier and a lot of it has to be measured before you take that call. It has to be a serious, strategic long-term discussion.”

Reliance Viacom18 Sports Channel – Anil Jayaraj appointed CEO: BCCI will be releasing the tender of media rights for the next cycle of IPL Rights before the end of this year and don’t be surprised if Reliance backed Viacom18 will be seen fighting it out with Sony, DisneyStar and others for the marquee event in future. Inside Sports

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