Viacom18 which is officially under the control of billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries Ltd., has secured exclusive media rights to the Indian Super League (ISL) which is India’s premier football league, for both digital and traditional media platforms for both the upcoming seasons.
The 10th season of the ISL is all set to start on 21st September, the first one being a match between Kerala Blasters FC and Bengaluru FC in Kochi, which marks the league’s transition from its previous broadcaster, Disney Star. On 21st July Disney Star had moved itself out of renewing its previous media rights owing to the losses and depleting viewership. Football Sports Development Ltd. (FSDL), the organization behind ISL, has itself been struggling with losses in the past few years, which rose to ₹46 crore for 2021-22 from ₹13 crore in 2020-21, and ₹27 crore in 2019-2020. When Disney Star’s ongoing media rights deal ended this year, it prompted FSDL to auction the rights. With Reliance Industries securing about 65% stake in FSDL (Disney Star owns the remaining 35%), industry sources had expected the rights to go to Viacom18. To formalize the auction, FSDL engaged global sports agency Octagon and set a minimum price of ₹275 crore per year for the two-year rights which would be open to a three-year extension.
It later surfaced up that only two bids were received for the rights and were awarded at the base price, but as of now financial details have not been disclosed. Viacom18 recently announced that its digital streaming service, JioCinema, would now be open to offering free streaming of ISL matches. The media company has previously streamed high-profile events like the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and IPL 2023.