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Amazon Prime takes stance at streaming crease, starts sports live streaming in India

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Mumbai: Amazon Prime Video entered sports live streaming in India — showing cricket from New Zealand — in a move that may redraw the rights ecosystem in India and impact the duopoly of broadcast networks Star and Sony. Amazon has won the exclusive rights to New Zealand Cricket (NZC) matches, which had been with Star and Disney India since the 2017 rights cycle.

Star did not renew its deal with NZC after the last India tour in February this year. The Disney-owned broadcaster is heavily invested in cricket — it holds rights to the Indian Premier League (IPL) until 2022. Star also holds the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the International Cricket Council (ICC) rights until the 2022-23 season.

Amazon has picked up the India rights for NZC until the 2025-26 season for an undisclosed amount. The deal will allow Prime Video exclusive access to all international matches to be played in New Zealand, including the India team’s next tour scheduled for March 2022.

Agencies

“Over the last few years, Amazon Prime Video has become the go-to destination for world class entertainment in India,” said Gaurav Gandhi, director and country general manager, Amazon Prime Video. “We are excited to add India’s most loved game — cricket — to our content selection. The cricketing rivalry between the two countries has been fantastic. We are happy to make this collaboration with New Zealand Cricket our first live sport offering in India, and are confident that our Prime members will be delighted with this initiative.”

The season will start with the West Indies’ tour to New Zealand scheduled for later this month, followed by Pakistan’s trip. Amazon is expected to syndicate or sub-license these rights for this season. The entry of Amazon will help the sporting ecosystem.

“The duopoly of Star and Sony was killing the smaller leagues as well as international sports,” said a former sports network executive. “If these two were not interested, league owners had no options. Discovery’s DSports is too small and digital platforms like Fancode can only afford niche sports.”

This is not the first time that a streaming or digital player has acquired sports rights in India. Hotstar, then owned by Star and now by Disney, had picked up the digital rights of IPL for three years in 2015 for ₹303 crore. During this period, the TV rights were with Sony. When the IPL rights came up again for auction for the 2018-2022 period, Facebook bid ₹3,900 for the digital rights but lost out to the combined bid by Star for digital and TV rights.

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