Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo
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In a first-of-its-kind broadcast agreement, Disney Star* has licensed a part of the ICC rights it recently won for the Indian market to Zee Entertainment Enterprises. The agreement means that Zee will now broadcast the ICC men's and Under-19 tournaments in India for the 2024-27 cycle, while Disney Star retains the digital rights for the same events.
The broadcast rights for the ICC women's events for the Indian market - both TV and digital - remain with Disney Star.
In a media release issued on Tuesday, Disney Star and Zee said the ICC had given an "in-principle" approval to their agreement. On August 26, Disney Star had won the entire ICC rights - both TV and digital - for four years for the Indian market by beating competition from Zee, Sony and Viacom. There are four men's marquee events in the 2024-27 period, including two T20 World Cups (2024 and 2026), the 2025 Champions Trophy and the 2027 ODI World Cup.
K Madhavan, country manager and president at Disney Star, said "opting to retain only the digital rights" for ICC tournaments for 2024-27, in addition to securing the IPL television rights (2023-27) has allowed the broadcaster to put "in place a balanced and robust cricket offering for our audiences across linear and digital." Zee's chief executive officer and managing director Punit Goenka said the agreement reflected a "sharp, strategic vision" for conducting sports business in India.
"As a one-stop television destination for ICC men's cricket events until 2027, ZEE will leverage the strength of its network to offer a compelling experience for its viewers and a great return on investment for its advertisers," Goenka said. "Long-term profitability and value-generation continue to be our areas of focus across the business, and we will always evaluate all the necessary steps that will enable us to make sports a compelling value proposition for the company. We look forward to working with ICC and Disney Star, to enable this strategic offering for our television viewers in India."
While it is probably the first time that two rival broadcasters have come to such an agreement in a single market, the ICC had included a provision in its bid document about the winner having the opportunity to sub-license rights. The agreement is still subject to the ICC's final approval, which will come after Disney Star has given the necessary guarantees.
To exploit the commercial potential for its rights, the ICC had decided to unbundle the rights and sell them in separate territories for four or eight years, while also separating men's and women's rights. After the Indian market, the ICC is scheduled sell the rights for the US, UK and Australian markets separately with the aim of closing all those deals by Christmas.
Disney Star and ESPNcricinfo are part of the Walt Disney Company.