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Disney Int'l Chair Campbell: 'We Will Be Exploring Other Multiplatform Cricket Rights' in India

Rebecca Campbell Disney
Rebecca Campbell, chairman, international content and operations for Disney. (Image credit: The Walt Disney Co.)

Disney International Content and Operations Chair Rebecca Campbell sought to explain the company's rationale for not securing coveted streaming rights to Indian Premier League cricket and declaring Disney's intention to pursue other OTT rights to live sports in the region. 

Corrected: An earlier version of this story misidentified Rebecca Campbell. 

"We made disciplined bids with a focus on long-term value. We chose not to proceed with the digital rights given the price required to secure that package," Campbell said in a statement released Tuesday.

Also read: Disney’s Wish For Star India Success Swings on Cricket Deal

Viacom18, a joint venture between Paramount Global and Reliance Industries, ended up paying around $3 billion to acquire rights to the IPL tournament from 2023-2027. Disney was able to secure broadcast TV rights for Disney Star during that same span, also paying around $3 billion. 

But Disney Plus Hotstar, which had been IPL's streaming home for a fraction of the new bid, will not have rights starting next April, when the IPL tournament convenes.

"We will be exploring other multi-platform cricket rights, including future rights for International Cricket Council (ICC) and Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), which we currently hold through the 2023 and 2024 seasons, respectively," Campbell added. "Additionally, we hold ProKabaddi League rights, India Super League football rights, as well as various international sports rights, including the Wimbledon Championships and the English Premier League. At the same time, we are focused on growing our robust slate of original entertainment content for Disney Plus Hotstar and our television channels in the region."

Average revenue per user is still relatively very low in India for American streaming companies. But the region is one of intense competitive focus right now, given the comparatively low levels of streaming saturation -- there's a huge percentage of India's 1.38 billion citizens who have yet to adopt the streaming habit, and live sports is viewed as a catalyst to entice them. 

The missed IPL opportunity comes with CEO Chapek taking intense criticism, both on the Disney lot and among his peers, for his abrupt firing last week of widely respected Entertainment Chair Peter Rice -- a move many suspect has more to do with self-preservation than business sense. 

The Disney board released a statement last week, seeking to affirm the embattled chief executive. 

Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!