In yet another audacious move, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has signed a two-year exclusive deal with Internet giant Google for live streaming of the Indian Premier League (IPL) matches across the world. The matches will be telecast on its popular user-generated content platform, YouTube. This is the first time a sporting event will be telecast live on the Internet.
Besides the live videos, YouTube users will have the option to see the matches the way they want through features such as the ability to choose one’s own camera positions, freezing or fast forwarding the stream, access to an archive function that allows the replay of past shots and also, a feature called Fan Feed that will give them access to entertainment around the event.
“The basic structure of the relationship is that we will place IPL live matches in this season and the next on YouTube,” said Shailesh Rao, managing director, Google India. “We will also make available on-demand broadcast, clipping, videos and so on. We will do all of this on a global basis so that users from around the world can enjoy cricket,” he said in an announcement made in Mumbai today.
In India, IPL has an exclusive 10-year broadcast deal, signed for a whopping $1.26 billion, with Multi Screen Media Pvt Ltd, the network that runs channels such as Sony Entertainment and Max. The matches are shown live on its movies and events channel Max.
The deal with Google, though, has not been signed for a pre-determined fee. It is, instead, a revenue-sharing arrangement under which Google will share a certain percentage of the revenue it generates with the BCCI.
Globally, YouTube has 400 million unique viewers and the Indian market comprises only 10 million of this user set. The average global traffic the site gets every day, however, is around 1 billion. In comparison, Max claims to have had 102 million and 125 million unique viewers for IPL’s first and second season, respectively. “Our cumulative reach is around 400 million,” said Sneha Rajani, executive vice president and business head, Max.
Unique viewers is a term used to denote the net number of individuals tuning in to a platform whereas the cumulative reach denotes the number of times the unique viewers visit the platform.
Rajani said the deal with Google will not impact Max’s viewership or even the advertising potential because the target universe of both the platforms is mutually exclusive. “In India, the number of people having access to broadband is limited. Also, the service that is available is patchy and may not be able to support three-hours live video streaming. Besides, the number of YouTube users is also small here. So it won’t dent our loyal viewership set.”
“Likewise, our advertisers will continue to be with us because of the mass access to people we can provide,” she said.
IPL chairman Lalit Modi said the idea behind the deal was to take IPL to the global audiences. “Distribution is key for any property. While last year, IPL’s stint at South Africa made it achieve the status of a global event, through this deal with Google we can now take this event to the global audience.”
To monetise the acquisition, Google is also primarily looking at advertisers and is talking to various advertisers in big cricket markets such as India, Australia, the UK and the US. While exploring global deals, it said it will also look at country-specific advertisers to focus on one particular territory.
Parminder Singh, business head, Google India, said: “We believe that there will be three different categories of advertisers who would look at this. One, who already have IPL as an important part of their brand strategy because with YouTube, they will have access to a new medium. Two, advertisers who have been wanting to associate with IPL but due to several reasons, such as budgets, were not able to do that. And thirdly, the advertisers who are focused on the Internet.”