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Viacom18 bags broadcasting rights for IPL, NBA

Acquiring the television and digital rights for BCCI cricket matches has brought Viacom18 a step closer to becoming India’s ultimate destination for sports viewing.

Apart from the TV and digital rights for the WPL and the digital rights for the IPL, the Reliance-backed network has the rights to a whole host of sporting events. Be it cricket, football, badminton, athletics, motorsports, squash, table tennis, basketball or tennis- between its television channel Sports18 and its OTT platform JioCinema, the network has it all.

Speaking to afaqs! in August, Siddharth Sharma, head of content, Viacom18 – sports, said, “We want to be wherever sports fan aggregation is. Our goal is to serve as the platform through which fans can actively connect with their favourite sports. We possess a distinctive advantage, acting as the hub where fans from various sports and disciplines converge, fostering an environment free from biases.”

Since the network launched a dedicated sports TV channel, Sports18, in 2022, it has been focusing on acquiring rights to some of the biggest sports properties in the world. In 2022, it obtained rights for FIFA and the IPL, further solidifying its sports content portfolio. Additionally, Viacom18 secured exclusive broadcast rights for the Diamond League, a track and field event, ensuring coverage until the year 2024. Adding to its growing roster, in December 2022, it secured the exclusive media rights to broadcast the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics, and non-exclusive rights to the Winter Youth Olympic Games 2024, across the regions of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

In March 2023, it acquired the rights for MotoGP. Last month, it live-streamed the World Athletics Championships Budapest 2023 on JioCinema. The network’s portfolio includes global sports properties like Ultimate Table Tennis (UTT), Ligue1, Serie A, BGIS (E-Sports), and top BWF events.

In terms of cricket, apart from the WPL and the IPL, it also streamed the India-West Indies series in August. Viacom18 also holds broadcasting rights in India for some popular international leagues like South Africa’s T20 league SA20, Abu Dhabi T10, and America’s Major League Cricket (MLC).

The network acquired the rights for the Spanish football league LaLiga in 2021. After broadcasting it on MTV for the first season, it moved to Sports18. Similarly, it had inked a three-year deal with the National Basketball Association (NBA) in 2021 and after broadcasting it on MTV initially, it is now available on Sports18.

Starting with the FIFA World Cup in 2022, Viacom18 moved all its sports content from Voot to JioCinema. The FIFA World Cup and the IPL this year were streamed freely on JioCinema drawing a huge audience to the OTT platform.

Sports are known to benefit OTT platforms as it helps them grow their subscriber base and bring in advertisers seeking to reach a highly engaged and diverse audience, ultimately bolstering their revenue streams.

For example, Disney+ Hotstar has grown on the back of its sports properties. Star India acquired the digital rights for the IPL in 2018 and built Disney+ Hotstar on the back of it. It also benefited through other sports events like the Pro Kabaddi League, Indian Super League, Wimbledon Championships and English Premier League. Afaqs

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