FREE | India Interactive Report, 2021

For the month of October, a new style of monthly report is being implemented.

SportBusiness Media is launching its new Interactive Market Report, which combines in-depth analysis of a full market report with the interactivity of our monthly data snapshots. This combination will create a compressed but detailed report on a territory or sport.

Although this analysis focuses on India, most major rights deals are agreed across the Indian Subcontinent (which includes Bangladesh, Bhutan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal and the Maldives) and sometimes across Asia. For this reason, even if this report does not analyse other countries of the region, many deals will be valid for the whole subcontinent or continent. Further detail on these deals covered in this interactive report is available with our Rights Tracker tool – click here for more information.

Market trends

India has the second-largest population in the world behind China. With over 200m TV households, more than 600m internet users and pay-television penetration of nearly 70 percent, India has huge potential as a major media market, underlined by its young population (the average age is 27 years old).

Although broadband penetration is still relatively low – 50 per cent – this figure has more than doubled since 2015. Growing at such a fast pace, the Indian market will continue to shift towards OTT based content but for now, the market continues to heavily rely on linear broadcasting.

This can be seen in how major sports properties are distributed, with the most important competitions being picked up by linear pay-television broadcasters Sony Pictures Network and Star India. In the past 18 months, the market has started to witness the entrance of streaming services such as Fancode and Amazon, with the former starting to play an important role in the country’s sports media rights market.

The volume of digital subscriptions has increased by 50 per cent since 2019 and while some of this can be attributed to the effects of Covid-19, there will not be a regression to pre-pandemic levels. On the contrary, it may become a new benchmark to judge growth in this sector.

Looking specifically at the sports media rights market, the first and easiest trend to identify is the centrality of cricket. As India’s national sport, it has the same importance as the NFL in the US or the Premier League in the UK.

Every year, more than 500 million people in the country watch the Indian Premier League, the country’s franchise T20 cricket competition. The IPL has attracted incredible viewership figures over the years, but the mainstay of the market is the matches of the Indian national cricket team. The 2011 Cricket World Cup final between India and Sri Lanka attracted 340m viewers, while the 2020 opening game of the IPL surpassed 200m viewers.

Aside from cricket, the other two sports that sit on the popularity podium in India are kabaddi and football.

Kabaddi plays an important role in the sporting landscape and has quickly become a massively popular televised sport across the Indian subcontinent. The Pro Kabaddi League – which was created by media group Star India – attracted a total of 435 million viewers during its inaugural season in 2014, placing it behind the IPL in that same year (who had 560 million viewers).

Football has become increasingly popular over the past decade, despite India never being able to impose itself at international level. India has two primary domestic leagues: the Indian Super League and the I-League. Since each league was created in 2013 and 2007 respectively, the two have competed for the status of being the country’s top-tier league. However, starting from the 2022-23 season, there will be a promotion/relegation system, with the Indian Super League becoming the top-tier competition and the I-League becoming the second tier of Indian football.

Regarding non-domestic properties, European football competitions play an important role in the country’s sports media rights market. Rights to the English Premier League are always hotly contested, but broadcaster appetite for other European club football properties has declined over the past two three-season cycles.                                                                                                                              

Cricket, domestic and international analysis

As previously mentioned, India and its neighbouring regions are the most prominent cricket fans in the world. For this reason, rights to the Indian Premier League (IPL) and Indian national cricket team matches are by far the two most valuable contracts in the country.

Founded in 2007, the IPL is the most famous domestic cricket competition in the world. The eight-team league signed its first major broadcasting agreement in 2008 when pay-television broadcaster Sony India purchased the rights. This deal lasted for ten years, with additional digital rights being sold to pay-television broadcaster Star India from 2015. Both deals ended in 2017.

Rights in the current cycle were acquired by Star India, which acquired exclusive rights to the competition over five years, from 2018 to 2022. This deal increased the annual value of the rights by 558 percent compared to the previous contract, with Star India obtaining the right to exploit these rights on a global level.

Mobile and internet rights were sold separately during Sony’s deal, though these were included in Star India’s current deal.

Rights to the home matches of the Indian national cricket team – also known as rights to the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s national team properties – have become the second-most valuable property in the country behind the IPL.

The rights have been held by Star India since 2012, firstly in a deal lasting from 2012-13 to 2017-18. The current cycle, during which the pay-television broadcaster is paying close to 91 percent more, runs from 2018-19 to 2022-23. Star acquired global rights to BCCI national team properties in both the previous cycle and the current cycle. For consistency, the graph below visualizes all information in USD, so the accurate representation of the increase will be impacted by fluctuating exchange rates.

Click on each icon to filter historical media rights value information for the two main domestic cricket properties:


Although Star India is more focused on domestic media rights, the pay-television broadcaster picked up some valuable and renowned international properties. Star India holds global rights to the ICC Cricket World Cup for the 2019 and 2023 editions.  These investments, which are additional to the IPL and Indian national cricket team amongst others, make Star India the home of cricket in the region and a fundamental player in the global cricket rights market.

While Star holds rights to three most important cricket properties in India, Sony holds rights to the English national cricket team’s home matches – including its matches against India – in a deal that runs from 2018 to 2022.

Sony India is the most active Indian broadcaster when it comes to the rights of international cricket boards. The pay-television broadcaster holds rights to the home matches of the Australian national cricket team, the Sri Lankan national cricket team and the Pakistan national cricket team.

The six-season deal with Cricket Australia, which runs from 2017-18 to 2022-23, also includes rights to the Big Bash League. Rights to the Sri Lankan cricket team’s home matches, which are owned by Sony India on a global basis, last for a three-year period, from 2021 to 2023. Rights in the Indian Subcontinent for the home matches of the Pakistan cricket team run from 2020 to 2023.

Rights to The Hundred, the new domestic T20 competition hosted by the England and Wales Cricket Board, were acquired by Fancode in a four-year deal running from 2021 to 2024. The fee also takes marketing spend and promotion into account.

Click on each icon to filter historical media rights value information for the main international cricket properties; please notice that although some of these deals relate to the Asian continent or are considered global, SportBusiness considers most of the value to relate to the Indian subcontinent. These values do not include domestic rights for these properties. For more information, please visit our Rights Tracker tool.


Football, domestic and international analysis

The Indian Super League will become India’s undisputed top-tier football league in 2022, relegating the I-League to become the second-tier domestic competition. This decision was taken in 2019 when a roadmap was set out for the future of Indian football. The decision followed years of conflict ongoing since the creation of the Indian Super League in 2013. Star India acquired rights to the ISL in a 10-year deal which lasts from 2014 to 2023. The deal also included a 33 per cent stake in the league.

The I-League’s rights are sold together with the rights of the Indian national football team. The value of these deals is much lower than the ISL’s, with Reliance Industries-owned agency Rise Worldwide picking up the rights for 15 seasons in 2010. The deal also included the now defunct Federation Cup. The deal expires in 2025.

The English Premier League is the most valuable non-domestic club football property. Star India holds the rights in a deal which runs from 2019-20 to 2021-22. Rights to the 2022 Fifa World Cup have been acquired by media group Viacom18, which will broadcast the competition in the Indian subcontinent.

Viacom18 is the home to three of the five top European football leagues. It holds rights to Spain’s LaLiga, from 2021-22 to 2023-24. It also broadcasts the Italian Serie A over the same cycle, as well as the French Ligue 1. The German Bundesliga, on the other hand, is shown by Sony, who recently signed a deal for the next two years.

Rights to Uefa club competitions are held by Sony India, which renewed its agreement to bring the relationship to nine seasons when the new deal expires at the end of 2023-24. The cycle is marked by a drastic decrease compared to the 2018-21 agreement. The 2018-21 cycle also marked a big drop compared to the previous cycle, 2015-18, when the rights were worth almost double that amount. The reasons for these massive decreases are due to a lack of interest in the properties, which broadcast at uncomfortable times in the Indian region.

Click on each icon to filter media rights value information for the main domestic and international football properties:


Other sports analysis

Kabaddi has recently grown to become the second-most popular sport across the Indian Subcontinent. Star India has been the long-term rights holder of the Pro Kabaddi League, in line with its strong interest in domestically-relevant properties. Though the league suffered cancellations during the Covid-19 outbreak, the new five-year deal signed with Star in 2021 ended the 2020 drop. In this new cycle, the value has increased by more than 84 percent compared to the 2017-19 cycle, and grown by 277.6 percent compared to the 2015-16 cycle. Star India wholly owns the PKL and has held exclusive global rights to the property in all three cycles since the league’s inception in 2015.

WWE is a particularly important property in the market, with many wrestlers having Indian origin. Among the most famous are WWE Hall of Famer The Great Khali, Jinder Mahal, both of whom have been crowned champion. The value of the property has risen sharply (as can be seen in the graph below), increasing by 79 percent compared to the previous cycle.

Click on each icon to filter media rights value information for other main domestic and international sport properties:


Broadcaster analysis

Most sports media rights contracts in India and the Indian Subcontinent are owned by linear pay-television broadcasters Star India and Sony Pictures Network – widely known as just ‘Star’ and ‘Sony’.

Star India is owned by The Walt Disney Company India, a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company. Star India has been part of the Walt Disney Company since it acquired 21st Century Fox in 2019.

Star India’s network is formed of 60 channels and reaches 90 percent of TV homes in India, making it the country’s most available broadcaster. Thanks to its multiple global media rights deals, it reaches approximately 800 million viewers a month across the world. Star is home for many domestic properties such as the aforementioned IPL and international properties such as the English Premier League. It shows its vast sporting portfolio across its 17 dedicated sport channels.

Sony Pictures Networks India is the pay-television broadcaster that shows the majority of international sports properties. A subsidiary of the Sony Corporation, the broadcaster runs 26 television channels and also owns a free-to-view OTT service, SonyLIV. It is heavily involved in film and digital content production.

Sony began its journey into sports in 2002, when it acquired the rights to the International Cricket Council from 2003 to 2007. Its next big step in sport was the acquisition of the IPL rights in a 10-year agreement, from 2008 until 2017. It initially broadcast the rights on its entertainment channels such as Sony MAX before creating its first sports channel in 2012 – Sony SIX.

In September this year, Sony India and media company Zee Entertainment announced plans to merge into a publicly-listed company. The companies entered an exclusive, non-binding agreement to combine both companies’ linear networks, digital assets, production operations and programme libraries. Sony India intends to hold a controlling 53-per-cent stake following its $1.58bn (€1.34bn) cash injection into the new entity. The deal would create one of India’s biggest media conglomerates and will add fuel to an upcoming tender for Indian Premier League rights in the 2023-27 cycle.

Viacom18 Media, a joint venture between media conglomerates Reliance and ViacomCBS, was founded in 2007. It broadcasts content across general entertainment, music and children’s programming, however its interest in sport is growing rapidly. It first purchased sporting events in 2018 when it obtained rights to local properties (the Nidahas Trophy and Super Fight League). It has upped its presence from 2021, purchasing rights to European football leagues for the next three seasons, as well as exclusive rights to the 2022 Fifa World Cup.

Streaming platform Fancode – owned by fantasy sports company Dream Sports – also operates in the Indian market. Dream Sports owns the hugely-popular fantasy sports platform Dream11, which rose to popularity as a sponsor of the IPL. Fancode is an aggregating platform that offers live streaming, news, and stats.

Sports broadcaster Eurosport and its parent company, media conglomerate Discovery, play an important role in the Indian landscape. It broadcasts many of its properties on a continental basis, but it does have some agreements in place for properties in the Indian subcontinent as a standalone territory. It broadcasts the FIM MotoGP World Championship, and golf properties such as the PGA Championship, the PGA Tour and the European Tour.

Fox Sports Asia, once the primary pay-television broadcaster in the Asia-Pacific region with reach across most of the Asian continent, recently announced it would be shutting down. Its owner, media conglomerate Disney, confirmed it would not be continuing its operations and would exit the market once its ongoing contracts expire. Fox only acquired rights on a pan-regional basis, with no deals specifically for the Indian region. Its most important contract that includes rights across the subcontinent is for Formula One, in a deal that runs from 2016 to 2022.

Other players active in India include social media platform Facebook, which obtained digital rights to ICC competitions including the 2023 ICC Cricket World Cup. Amazon’s streaming service Prime Video holds rights to the New Zealand national cricket team’s home matches over five years, from 2021 to 2026.

To view the full version with SportBusiness sourced values, please visit: https://media.sportbusiness.com/2021/10/india-interactive-report-2021/

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