Entertainment-focused broadcaster Viacom18 has bagged TV and digital rights for a short format cricket series to be played in Abu Dhabi and announced its keenness to bid for more sporting properties in the future.
The broadcaster, majority-owned by diversified Reliance Industries, feels sports serve as an extension to its existing offering because the same audience is the target group to watch the sporting fixtures as well, its business head for Hindi movies cluster Rohan Lavsi told PTI.
Lavsi said the network, which follows rivals like Disney Hotstar and Sony in joining the sports bandwagon, will bid for sporting properties till it delivers from a profitability and audience expansion perspective, and marked out cricket, football and kabaddi as the sports of interest.
The Abu Dhabi T10 series is the third sporting property it will be broadcasting after a Spanish football league and a T20 series played by former cricketers. Lavsi did not disclose the bid amount for the three-year exclusive TV and digital rights for the Abu Dhabi series, but said that the investment is equal to what they have made for the Road Safety World Series involving former cricketers, and exuded confidence that it will ring in profits for the network by the end of the contract period. The cricket series will be broadcast on Colors Cineplex SD (Hindi), Colors Cineplex HD (English), Rishtey Cineplex (Hindi), Voot, and Jio, and will be produced by group company Rise Worldwide, he said, adding that matches for the current season will start from November 19.
When asked about concerns about many overseas tournaments becoming a hotbed for betting, Lavsi said that this league is sanctioned by the game’s governing body ICC and played as per its regulations.
It has eight teams belonging to franchisees who will be playing 34 matches in a single season, he said, adding that the play-offs will be during Indian prime time.