A sublicensing agreement for the most recent media rights of the International Cricket Council has been reached by Disney Star and ZEE (ICC). As a result, Star would only retain the internet rights while ZEE will air all international cricket events on its television networks.
The groundbreaking strategic license agreement, which will see Star continue to broadcast matches on its digital channel, Hotstar, will last for four years beginning in 2024.
The media outlets claimed in a joint statement that the ICC had, in theory, approved the arrangement. As a matter of policy, the ICC declines to comment on topics of a commercial nature, however, sources in Dubai have told Cricbuzz that the ICC is aware of the situation. It is dependent on our permission, according to an ICC source.
The action is a type of atonement for ZEE, which was blacklisted by the ICC and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) after the 2007 debut of the illegal Indian Cricket League (ICL). All parties recently reached a settlement following a protracted legal dispute, and as a result, ZEE bid on the media rights for the IPL. The ICC rights are actually ZEE’s second significant acquisition after the ILT20 (Dubai League) rights, which were acquired for 10 years.
Lalit Modi invented India’s off-shore games, which ZEE Sports owned the rights to before being blacklisted by the BCCI in 2007. Lalit Modi organized international bilateral or tri-series events in locations including Abu Dhabi and Malaysia for a year before the events were discontinued.
According to insiders who spoke with Cricbuzz, the agreement between ZEE and Star involves a pre-bid arrangement between the two organizations, with former BCCI CEO Rahul Johri—who joined ZEE after leaving the board position in 2021—playing a key role. Nothing, especially this kind of trade, happens overnight, one of the parties involved told Cricbuzz. Puneet Goenka, the managing director of Zee, concurred with the deal.
The merger of the two media companies, who have been in commercial competition for more than three decades, is a huge relief for Star, which is thought to have made an enormous bid of more than $3 billion to get the rights. The two businesses will now split the financial burden. The corporations have kept the precise transaction value a secret.
In a broader sense, it is a contract between three companies, with Sony Pictures Network India shortly entering the picture. The long-running merger procedure between Sony and ZEE is anticipated to be finished as soon as possible. “On Zee Sports, it will be broadcast. Later, the Sony factor will be considered, ” said a source.
According to the joint statement, the agreement allows ZEE to hold the exclusive television rights to ICC men’s competitions, including the highly coveted ICC Men’s T20 World Cup (2024, 2026), ICC Men’s Champions Trophy (2025), and the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup (2027), as well as significant ICC U-19 competitions.
ZEE Entertainment Enterprises Ltd.’s MD and CEO, Punit Goenka, stated: “The partnership with Disney Star demonstrates our astute strategic vision for the Indian sports industry. ZEE will use the power of its network to create an engaging experience for its viewers and a fantastic return on investment for its advertisers as a one-stop television destination for ICC men’s cricket tournaments till 2027.”
Disney Star’s country manager and president, K Madhavan, said: “We have a balanced and strong cricket offering for our audiences across linear and digital thanks to the acquisition of the IPL television broadcast rights for the years 2023–2027 and the decision to only keep the digital rights for ICC tournaments in the years 2024–2027. The popularity of international cricket in India has grown over time thanks to Disney Star, making it more appealing to a variety of age groups and cultural demographics throughout the nation. We will keep doing so with our strong portfolio of cricket properties across broadcast and internet as India’s top media company.”
Women’s games are likely to air on both stations
Regarding the ICC women’s cricket media rights, the joint statement is silent. Because ICC is a significant partner in the transmission of the women’s games, Cricbuzz has learned that the decision regarding the women’s games is still under consideration. The matches are expected to be broadcast on both Star and ZEE’s television stations because Star’s presentation on promoting women’s cricket was the finest of all. It is understood that, as of right now, only the men’s competitions have received the ICC’s sanction.