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Disney Star* has bagged rights to broadcast all ICC men's and women's events on a four-year deal from 2024 to 2027. The rights, widely seen as cricket's second-most lucrative, behind the IPL, are for the Indian market. Disney Star won both the TV and digital rights.
The bids had been opened on Friday and a clear winner was evident then but the process required ratification by the ICC Board, which happened on Saturday. The ICC did not reveal how much Disney Star's bid was worth, but it is expected to be higher than the $1.44 billion benchmark number set for four years by the ICC.
Whatever the final figure, the rights will have generated a far greater value in this cycle than the last. The last set of ICC rights were also owned by Star and were worth approximately $2.1 billion. But that was for an eight-year cycle, and the market was substantially different when those rights were sold: that figure was for the global rights rather than just the India market - and for both TV and digital. There are more ICC events in this next cycle and one men's event every year, and as witnessed in the recent bid for IPL rights, the digital streaming landscape in particular has evolved considerably since.
"Disney Star won following a single round sealed bid process which has yielded a significant uplift to the rights fee from the previous cycle, continuing the impressive growth and reach of cricket," an ICC release said.
The rights for ICC events this time round had been unbundled into different packages - one for TV only, one for digital only, one for both, over four and eight years - and men's and women's events were treated separately. Disney Star's plans for women's cricket impressed the ICC, who had said before the process that it was important to find a broadcaster for women's cricket not just with the highest bid but also with comprehensive plans in continuing to grow the women's game.
"We are delighted to continue to partner with Disney Star as the home of ICC cricket for the next four years, which has delivered an outstanding result for our Members and will support our ambitious growth plans," ICC chairman Greg Barclay said in a statement. "They will play a crucial role in the future of our sport and connecting and engaging with more fans than ever before.
"Having a broadcast and digital partner for women's events in India is a significant step forward in our ambition to accelerate the growth of the women's game. Disney Star presented impressive plans for the promotion of women's cricket and they clearly share our vision, so I'm incredibly excited by the size of the opportunity ahead."
K Madhavan, country manager and president, Disney Star, said, "The extension of the ICC rights adds to our strong portfolio of cricket properties, which also include the television rights for IPL (2023-27), digital rights to Cricket Australia (2024-31), BCCI broadcast rights through to 2024 and Cricket South Africa (end of 2023-24 season), and bolsters our status as the go-to destination for the best sporting events in the country."
Four broadcasters are believed to have put bids in ultimately - Sony, Viacom and Zee the other three - and though there was a process for a second round e-auction should bids in the first round - sealed bids - have been close, it was not needed.
The ICC plans to go to the US and UK markets next, around the same time and before Christmas this year, with the rest of Asia to follow after that.
*Disney Star and ESPNcricinfo are part of the Walt Disney Company.