Disney star sublicenses ICC TV rights to Zee

A strategic alliance between Disney Star and ZEE Entertainment Enterprises Ltd. entered on Tuesday has given cricket fans more options as regards to watching the ICC men’s events for the 2024-27 cycle.

Those who would prefer to watch games online, Star would be their go-to digital platform for the men’s T20 World Cups in 2024 and 2026, the Champions Trophy in 2025 and the men’s 50-over World Cup in 2027.

For TV nerds, they can watch all this on ZEE channels. The sublicensing deal is the first in Indian cricket broadcast

“ZEE Entertainment Enterprises Ltd. (ZEE) and Disney Star, today announced that they have entered into a strategic licensing agreement by which Disney Star will license the television broadcasting rights of the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Men’s and Under 19 (U-19) global events for a period of four years, to ZEE. Disney Star will continue to be the exclusive home for streaming of all ICC tournaments through its digital platform – Disney+ Hotstar. ICC has in-principle approved this arrangement,” said a joint press statement.

It added: “This association enables ZEE to be the exclusive television rights holder of ICC men’s events, including the coveted ICC Men’s T20 World Cup (2024, 2026), ICC Men’s Champions Trophy (2025), and the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup (2027) along with key ICC U-19 events.”

This came just days after Star won the TV and digital rights for both men’s and women’s global events from 2024 to 2027 for a reported $3 billion. The IPL media rights for the 2023-2027 cycle, too, saw a split, with Star bagging the TV rights and Viacom18/Reliance sweeping the digital segment.

Collectively, the IPL media rights were sold for around $6.2 billion. The ICC media rights, exclusively won by Star for the Indian market fetched less, but the company’s strategic alliance with ZEE made the viewing pool wider for cricket buffs and might have a positive impact on subscription packages.

This is rather more akin to how Sky Sports and BT Sport collaborate to broadcast the Premier League. In 2019, Sky Sports and BT Sport reached an agreement to sell their titled channels on each other’s platforms. In Indian cricket, as mentioned by ZEE’s MD & CEO Punit Goenka, this is a “first-of-its-kind”.

“This is a first-of-its-kind partnership in the Indian media & entertainment landscape, and this 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 until 2027, ZEE will leverage the strength of its network to offer a compelling experience for its viewers and a great return on investment for its advertisers,” Goenka stated in the press release.

Disney Star’s country manager & president K Madhavan said: “By securing the 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.”
As far as Star is concerned, this is apparently an effort to balance the books after forking out Rs 23,575 crore ($3 billion approx.) for the IPL TV rights in the subcontinent. From viewers’ perspective, however, the strategic alliance would give them the leeway to pick and choose.

Between 2024 and 2027, the ICC men’s calendar will have two T20 World Cups, two World Test Championship finals, a Champions Trophy and a 50-over World Cup. The women’s events include two T20 World Cups, a 50-over World Cup and a T20 Champions Trophy. Moving onto the U-19 events, the roster includes two men’s World Cups and a couple of women’s T20 World Cups.

ICC events during 2024-27 cycle

2024: Men’s T20 World Cup, Women’s T20 World Cup, U-19 Men’s World Cup

2025: Champions Trophy, WTC final, Women’s 50-over World Cup, U-19 Women’s T20 World Cup

2026: Men’s T20 World Cup, Women’s T20 World Cup, U-19 Men’s World Cup

2027: Men’s 50-over World Cup, WTC final, Women’s T20 Champions Trophy, U-19 Women’s T20 World Cup

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