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Reliance takes another step towards sports broadcasting with the hiring of experienced professionals from competition channels

Anil Jayaraj previously worked for Star Sports, Castrol, BP and Pidilite.

The joint venture entity of TV18 and ViacomCBS, Viacom18 has successfully managed to rope in professionals with higher authorities from the sports broadcasting industries. Viacom18 has got on board Anil Jayaraj from Star Sports as CEO of Sports Business and Gulshan Verma from Disney+Hotstar has joined Jio Ads as CEO. Jayaraj was the Executive Vice President for Advertisement sales at Star Sports. His ton of knowledge and experience will be important for Viacom18. He will be joining Viacom18 on September 16 with September 15 being his last day of work at Star Sports. Verma was the SVP and head of marketing at Disney+hotstar.

This will be a new challenge for Anil Jayaraj than the one he had at Star Sports. He had a pre-existing stage at Star Sports and was focused on creating revenue. At Viacom18, he will have to create a whole new team to expand into the sports broadcasting business in India. Jayaraj will be responsible for creating content and acquiring the media and broadcasting rights for the company.

Viacom18 is also not lagging at the moment with the company registering a 65% profit growth in 2021, as compared to 2020. The company registered a spike in profits from Rs 582.89 crore compared to Rs 353.54 crore in 2020. Most of this was possible due to cost-cutting measures by the organisation.

Currently, Viacom18 has acquired broadcasting rights for the Ligue 1, Serie A, La Liga as well as the Abu Dhabi T20 league. These lucrative acquisitions are more than enough to start a dedicated sports channel. Viacom18 also received TV licenses for four new channels. However, the main target for Jayaraj will be the IPL broadcasting rights auction which will happen later this year or early next year. Star Sports is their main rival and are the big fish in the ocean along with Amazon, Facebook and Sony LIV.

The IPL bid all adds up to the plot that Reliance industries are planning to expand into the sports broadcasting business. Their first big attempt will be at securing the IPL broadcasting rights which grossed 260 million views last season on Disney+Hotstar. However, if Reliance industries get hold of IPL broadcasting rights, they will expand the tournament like never before.

If Jio manages to win IPL media rights, the scale of the tournament will reach an unprecedented level. It will be a never-seen-before scale,” said an unofficial source.

It is for this reason itself that they are recruiting people from reputed organizations like Star Sports and Disney+Hotstar.

Another senior ad sales executive from a broadcasting company who recently stepped down might also be in talks with them,” read a report from exchange4media.

Reliance industries is targeting to enter into sports business and broadcasting through Network18 group and Reliance Jio. Network18 group’s broadcasting subsidiary TV18 owns a large stake in Viacom18 (currently a 51:49 joint venture program between TV18 and Viacom). Reliance might broadcast IPL with Viacom18 after acquiring major football and cricket events.

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