Amazon India bids for IPL digital rights, bets big on Prime

Amazon has picked up the tender documents for bidding for digital media rights to broadcast IPL, currently held by Sony


In late July, Amazon India launched its global Prime membership programme in more than 100 cities in the country. Photo: Reuters
In late July, Amazon India launched its global Prime membership programme in more than 100 cities in the country. Photo: Reuters

Bengaluru/New Delhi: Online marketplace Amazon India has made a bid for obtaining digital rights to broadcast the Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket tournament, an indication of the company’s big bet that video content will help it attract new users and keep existing users glued to its platform.

Amazon has bid for the digital media rights to broadcast IPL and picked up the tender documents, according to three people familiar with the matter. It’s not clear if Amazon will win the tender in the face of stiff competition from Sony Pictures Network and Star India Pvt Ltd.

The Economic Times reported the news earlier on Friday.

Amazon did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

One of the officials cited above confirmed that Amazon has bought the tender documents for IPL’s media rights.

For the Indian subcontinent, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) will award the television rights for 10 years and digital media rights for five years. The competitive bidding process will close on 25 October. The tenders opened on 18 September.

Currently, IPL’s TV broadcast rights are held by Sony Pictures Networks Pvt. Ltd. The rights will expire in 2017 with IPL’s 10th edition. The Internet and mobile rights were awarded to Novi Digital Entertainment Pvt. Ltd, a unit of Star India, for a period of three years to 2017.

Only non-news television broadcasters will be considered eligible for TV broadcasting rights, while all broadcasters, Internet operators and mobile phone service providers can bid for digital rights.

In late July, Amazon India launched its global Prime membership programme in more than 100 cities in the country, offering one-day and two-day delivery on hundreds of thousands of products for a fixed price ofRs.499 initially. The company said then that it will introduce video content in the coming months.

Also Read: Amazon Prime launched in 100 cities in India; videos yet to arrive

Amazon is in talks with film studios to come up with movies and other video content for Prime, at least two people familiar with the matter said. The IPL may help Amazon reach tens of millions of new users—total viewership of IPL calculated by impressions stood at 1.02 billion, according to data released by TV ratings agency Broadcast Audience Research Council of India in June.

“Prime is a journey where we keep adding benefits like we’ve done in every geography. A large part of our customers compare our offering to the US offering. You’ll continue to see Prime eligible selection go up on our websites, you’ll continue to see more benefits come up—so very soon you’ll see all of that in India. We acknowledge that this is a journey and we need to keep adding benefits to Prime in India in the same way that Prime in the US does,” Amazon India head Amit Agarwal said in an interview with Mint earlier in September.

Currently, there are 50-60 transacting users who buy things regularly online, according to analysts.

“Since its inception in every country, Prime continues to evolve as we add millions of additional items that can be delivered incredibly fast and free. We have also introduced unique digital benefits like Prime Video featuring Amazon Original Series and Movies—you’ll be hearing more about that in the coming months,” said Greg Greeley, vice president, Worldwide Prime, when Amazon announced the launch of Prime in India in July.

Content platforms and services may get a boost from the launch of Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd, which will lead to significantly lower data charges and improved mobile Internet speeds, according to analysts.

Earlier this month, Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) chairman Mukesh Ambani said Jio, RIL’s telecom arm, expects to attract 100 million customers in the “shortest possible time”.

“Anything that further accesses and then improves speed of access is good for online—depends on how Jio executes. At the base of it, the input that is going to drive the e-commerce curve continuously up is to get more customers internet access. And get fast and affordable internet access. If you’re asking me if more customers got fast and affordable access and if that would help, then the answer would be yes,” Agarwal had said.

To be sure, it’s not clear if content platforms will draw a large number of Indian customers who are all too willing to download things from the Internet free of cost, even if it’s illegal.

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