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What it means for ZEEL to acquire TV rights for UAE T20 League?

Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited (ZEEL) has bought the broadcasting rights of the Emirates Cricket Board's (ECB) UAE T20 League for 10 years. The acquisition of ECB is positive for the entertainment behemoth, if the execution is on track, says Karan Taurani, Senior Vice President at Elara Capital.

According to him, the tournament will be just like an IPL tournament, having international players, and it will feature six teams and 34 matches (including final and play offs).

KKR, MI, DD IPL owners have already bought three teams respectively in the tournament; there will be three more teams, which are purchased by other investors.

“Zee has bought the rights of this tournament for a mere USD 15mn per year, which translates into USD 150mn for 10 years. Comparatively a large franchise like IPL was sold for USD 2bn in its earlier cycle, the current bid cycle next year with two additional teams (from 8 to 10) will be anywhere closer to USD 5bn for five years,” said Karan.

IPL realisation on a per match basis for TV is around INR 35-40cr; the cost per match on TV is approximately INR 46 crores (assuming 80% of the rights money paid was for TV medium.)

“Based on this calculation, the UAE league has come at a relatively lower cost of INR 3.4cr per match (one tenth of IPL realisation) despite having the
1) Large scale
2) Favourable timing as India and UAE have a very small time gap
3) Pool of international players/T20 league teams
4) Large audience pool as almost 47% of the UAE expats follow cricket (90% of population is expats).

Cricket tournaments in general, especially t20, attract big eyeballs in India, with a large chunk of Indian players in IPL.

“We believe the above acquisition may work favourably, if the execution and marketing of the event is effective; however, it is still very early days, as we have seen many IPL-like cricket tournaments that have come by. However, none has been able to monetise like the IPL given the large pool of international players that are currently playing for their respective teams. We expect addition of more Asian players (Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh) in this league as they are less in IPL. It will also be interesting to see how many large international players (including Indian) are able to associate with this tournament, given their commitments to the respective national country boards,” added Karan.

Overall, he said, it is a very reasonable acquisition price for an international cricket tournament, and if works favourably, can boost eyeballs on digital in a big way for a platform like Zee5. In addition, Zee is very strong in terms of distribution strategy in the Middle East.


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