Viacom18 reportedly bags media rights to India vs Ireland T20Is; continues its purple patch

Cricket fans in the Indian subcontinent can catch the live action from the tour on JioCinema and Sports18.

The Indian media broadcasting giant, Viacom18, has prolonged its purple patch in acquiring sports properties by bagging media rights to the upcoming India tour of Ireland 2023, according to SportsMint’s sources.

Following this development, cricket fans in the Indian subcontinent can catch the live action from the tour on the OTT platform, JioCinema, and the TV network, Sports18.

After getting replaced by Star Sports as Cricket Australia‘s official broadcaster last year, following this recent arrangement, Sony Pictures Networks will now also miss out on the opportunity of providing exclusive coverage of the India-Ireland fixtures.

JioCinema’s potent inning on the sports media rights acquisition turf:

After successfully offering the coverage of FIFA World Cup 2022 and Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023, JioCinema continues its dominance in digital rights acquisition. After creating multiple viewership records during IPL 2023, the OTT platform secured digital streaming partnerships with Poker Super League and the ongoing India tour of West Indies 2023.

In the first quarter of 2023, JioCinema reportedly gathered over 10 million subscribers. During the IPL 2023 final, the OTT network created a global record of 3.2 crore concurrent viewers.

JioCinema’s mammoth success in recent times can be attributed to free live cricket, the commencement of the premium subscription following the arrival of the HBO and Warner Bros. content and the 24X7 live feed of Big Boss OTT. The free content library has also managed to charm individuals who prefer Indian movies and web series.

Cricket boards’ struggle for a mainstream broadcaster:

According to reports, the arrangments of the recent media rights deals have been agreed upon at the last minute because of the enormous costs demanded by the cricket boards. At the climax of this scenario, the negotiations are going the broadcaster’s way.

JioCinema, reportedly, wasn’t interested in acquiring rights to the India-Ireland series as the entity was already working on the ongoing India-West Indies and due to back-to-back fixtures, monetising the series would have been a horrendous task for the ad sales team considering the absence of a subscription model. According to reports, the likes of Sony and Star Sports also displayed disinterest in airing the T20I series between India and Ireland.

For the upliftment of the on-ground sponsors, it is vital for Cricket Ireland to have a mainstream broadcaster other than a state-owned entity. The absence of a mainstream broadcaster will hamper the exposure that the on-ground partners could have received due to the fruitful India trip to Ireland.

A senior industry leader privy to the development, said, “It’s a very bold yet rational strategy by Viacom18 to strengthen its live cricket portfolio, especially, when other broadcasters are fearful of investing with international cricket boards. After all, it’s an Indian cricket event only, with all 3 India playing T20Is in primetime. Both from a content and statement point of view it makes complete sense. More so, last-minute deals are the most lucrative ones where the probability of making money is highest. Lastly, it indicates that the network will be bullish to acquire the BCCI home series rights too and make JioCinema the home for live cricket digital broadcast.”

India’s tour of Ireland 2023:

Before the much-awaited Asia Cup 2023 and ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023, the Men in Blue will test their T20I strength with seniors being rested for India’s tour of Ireland.

The prime Indian pacer who is returning from a year-long injury, Jasprit Bumrah will lead the Indian team on this trip with the likes of Ruturaj Gaikwad, Rinku Singh, Tilak Verma, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Shivam Dube, Sanju Samson, Arshdeep Singh, Avesh Khan and several more youngsters.

At the conclusion of this series, a few names will be able to cement their spot in the squad for the ICC T20 World Cup 2024, which will be played in the Caribbean and the United States.

The upcoming India-Ireland bilateral series will consist of three T20Is, with fixtures being played on August 18, 20 and 23, respectively.

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