Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited (ZEEL) has reportedly bagged the rights for the Emirates Cricket Board’s (ECB) UAE T20 League for 10 years. According to the sources, the channel will be paying $15 million per year as a broadcast rights fee for the league. Thus, the total evaluation of the association becomes $150 million for 10 years.
The deal has taken place at a time when the company is in the process of its merger with Sony Pictures Networks India to generate a media goliath with combined revenues of $2 billion.
ZEEL in the past has been in business with Sony when the latter bought Ten Sports for $385 million. The merger will mean that they will be a serious contender for the IPL broadcasting rights.
ZEEL MD and CEO Punit Goenka, said, “Zee and Sony will form the largest media and entertainment player in the country. Our revenue on a standalone basis will be close to $2 billion and the growth capital that Sony is going to infuse in the merged entity will give us the opportunity to invest in premium content including sports. There is a going to be a huge opportunity on both digital and linear side to create big scale entertainment properties and acquire large IPs across genres.”
Zee channels have a huge audience in the middle east countries and thus for them to go after the rights of the UAE T20 League is a huge advantage. Channels like Zee TV, Zee Cinema, & TV besides Zee Aflam and Zee Alwan are targeted at Arabic audiences. Moreover, cricket has over two billion fans globally and is also the second most-watched sport in the UAE and that too without having a strong national team. This is a huge market for the sport and if the league progresses, the channel will be dealing in huge numbers.
Experts say that 89% of the country’s population are ex-pats and 47% of the UAE’s ex-pats are fans of cricket. As the UAE is also home to three massive stadiums, cricket is bound to be played in huge volumes.
The channel will also bank on Indian timings for their viewership as India is also a huge market. Moreover, having Indian owners will be a profit for the league as well. Shah Rukh Khan’s Knight Riders Sports, Delhi Daredevils co-owner GMR Sports, Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries, finance company Capri Global, Big Bash League team Sydney Sixers, and Manchester United owner Glazer family have reported acquired teams in the highly-anticipated tournament.
Currently, the new T20 tournament’s biggest rival will be the Big Bash League as it will be played in the same window of December-January.