Ten Sports’ new cricket telecast deals

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Indiantelevision.com Team

(13 September 2011 11:55 am)

MUMBAI: Zee-controlled Taj Television Limited has sealed fresh eight-year deals with two cricket boards for around $200 million, ensuring that its content stays rich as it seeks to scale up revenues from its sports broadcasting business.

The Cricket South Africa (CSA) television rights, pocketed for a price close to $180 million, will be one of Taj Television's key properties. It will provide around 300 days of cricket, including two India tours.

"It is good that the South Africa rights has gone to a broadcaster who needed it the most. Otherwise, there would have been a big hole in the content of Ten Cricket (one of the channels that Taj TV owns and operates)," said a senior executive who was earlier with Taj Television.

The South Africa rights had earlier fetched $75 million for five years (One year and then four-year extension).

"The value of the South Africa property has increased. Along with England and Australia, it looks likely that India will send its full-team strength to these three countries," said the executive on condition of anonymity.

The period through to 2019-20 will have 48 days of India cricket, including six Tests, 14 ODIs and 4 T20s.

CSA has sold the eight-year exclusive media rights to Taj Television and Willow TV for a record $202 million, indicating that the cricket broadcast rights market is booming. While Taj Television gets Asia and the Middle East, the rights agreement with Willow TV covers the US, Canada and Mexico.

"There is a price escalation but the positive thing is that these are long term rights," said a media buyer.

Taj Television has also renewed Zimbabwe rights for eights years for $20 million, according to sources. The four-year rights had earlier fetched $6 million. A smaller board, Zimbabwe will give the sports broadcaster 147 days of cricket including a single India tour.

Taj Television is looking at renewing rights of three more cricket boards - Pakistan, West Indies and Sri Lanka.

"Our broad strategy is to have over 200 days of cricket every year so that we can ramp up subscription revenues. It is important to build a reliable cricket platform with quality and volume of content. We have also got other strong sporting properties," said Taj Television India CEO Atul Pande, while declining to comment on any financials.

The competitive environment will only help content costs climb. "Acquisition prices are set to rise as these rights open up in 2012-13. Multi Screen Media (formerly Sony Entertainment Television India) is keen to launch a sports channel. Though it has Indian Premier League (IPL), it needs more cricket content. It will have to bid aggressively. Outside these three boards, ESPN Star Sports has England and Australia which are also coming up for renewal," said a senior sports marketing official.

Cricket boards are living in a dynamic economy where values are shifting. "New Zealand and Bangladesh boards seem to have lost some value during this period," the sports marketing executive added.
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