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Times Internet to acquire US-based cricket broadcaster Willow TV

Times Internet has announced that it has reached a definitive agreement to acquire Willow TV International, the leading cricket broadcaster in the US.

Willow is one of the fastest growing sports networks in the US, featuring the world’s most popular cricket matches and events. Named after the English willow tree from which cricket bats are made, Willow is the only channel that is dedicated to cricket in the US, with an aligned direct-to-consumer digital service at www.willow.tv.

The channel and its associated TV Everywhere service is widely distributed by the largest satellite, cable, IPTV and OTT platforms in a variety of subscription packages, including sports packs and South Asian targeted packages. The channel is available on seven of the top 10 pay television platforms in the US, with more new launches in the pipeline.

The timing of the deal is also significant. Starting on March 8, 2016, Willow will exclusively provide a live US television broadcast and live stream of the ICC World Twenty20. This is the first time an ICC tournament has been available on a US television broadcast channel, expanding its reach beyond the traditional and expensive pay-per-view distribution method. In parallel, Cricbuzz will exclusively deliver pre-match, in-match, and post-match highlights and coverage of the entire tournament to US digital audiences. Willow and Cricbuzz will be the exclusive destinations for this premium content from the ICC World T20 tournament, available to millions of Americans across TV and digital.

Commenting on the deal, Satyan Gajwani, Director, Times Internet, said, “We’re extremely pleased to welcome Willow to The Times Group. Cricket is one of the most popular sports in the world, and has the potential to become a major sport in the US. We are excited to expand and strengthen our offerings for South Asians living in the US, and to grow interest in cricket across the US, both with loyal fans and new consumers.”

Vijay Srinivasan, Founder and CEO of Willow TV, added here, “As a bootstrapped company, we launched the Willow cricket channel just over 5 years ago, and we are extremely proud of where it has reached. With the backing of The Times of India Group and its assets, I am confident that we can jointly build one of the premier sports businesses in the US.”

For Times Internet, Willow is complementary with its recent acquisition of Cricbuzz. Last year, during the ICC World Cup 2015, Cricbuzz saw over 1 billion visits in a span of 40 days, 96 per cent on mobile. Between Willow, Cricbuzz, and The Times of India’s digital assets, the group estimates reaching about 15 million Americans with an interest in cricket. Willow is the first international acquisition by Times Internet, and the first US acquisition for The Times of India Group.

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