India’s most popular social network will now have streaming rights of its most popular pastime.
Facebook has signed a four-year partnership with the International Cricket Council (ICC) to become the exclusive digital content rights partner for ICC events in the India subcontinent comprising of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal. As part of this deal, Facebook will offer match recaps and in-play key moments as well as match-related clips and feature content in these countries for 12 tournaments across the four year period. It will also offer post-match recaps throughout the rest of the world. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.
“With this partnership, we will be able to serve these fans with the kind of premium content that can ignite new conversations, new connections, and new followership,” said Ajit Mohan, VP and Managing Director, Facebook India. He also hinted that the coverage of cricket on Facebook could end up being quite. “The future of AR and VR is being charted by Facebook and we are excited about the possibility of bringing the best of our innovations to fans around the world,” he added.
Among the 12 tournaments that will be covered by the contract include two editions each of Men’s T20 World Cup (2020, 2021) and Women’s T20 World Cup (2020, 2022), Women’s Cricket World Cup in 2021 and Men’s Cricket World Cup in 2023. Two editions of World Test Championship Final (2021 and 2023), U19 Cricket World Cup (2020 and 2022) and Men’s qualifier tournaments for T20 World Cup in 2019 and the Cricket World Cup in 2022 are also part of the deal.
The ICC had invited bids for the sale of digital content rights across nine territories including the Indian subcontinent last month. At the time, the governing body had said it will be producing more than 20,000 individual clips amounting to about 500 hours of digital content to its partners across four years. “Throughout the competitive bid process, we received tremendous interest from a range of platforms, all of whom recognise the phenomenal reach of cricket. In Facebook, we have a genuine partner who shares in our ambition to continue to grow and deepen engagement with cricket fans globally using its platforms” said ICC Chief Executive Manu Sawhney.
Facebook has previously made known its interest in streaming cricket in India. It had bid for the digital rights to the IPLin 2017, but had lost out to Hotstar. Facebook, though, has previously streamed the Pakistan Super League and the Caribbean Premier League. Among other sports, it has streamed the Tata Open Maharastra tennis tournament and Asian Football Confederation games in the country, and also has the streaming rights for Spanish football league La Liga in India. But the digital rights to ICC events could be its biggest coup yet — Facebook has more than 300 million users in India, and is comfortably the country’s most popular social network. And with cricket now available on its platform, it has taken the first steps into moving into the videos space that’s been occupied by rivals including YouTube, Netflix, and Hotstar.