This year’s World Cup begins on Thursday in Ahmedabad when England plays New Zealand, and it lasts until November 19. The competition will be conducted in India for the first time in more than ten years, and it is anticipated to draw hundreds of millions of people.
Disney expects the competition will provide them some momentum in India after losing the 2023–2027 internet streaming rights to the well-known Indian Premier League cricket event to JioCinema last year. Disney exclusively owns both the World Cup broadcast and digital rights.
In India, where the majority of people do not own televisions, mobile phones represent a significant watching platform.
In an effort to lure fans and advertisers away from Disney and incite a price war, JioCinema, a joint venture with James Murdoch and Anil Ambani’s Reliance Industries, aired the IPL for free earlier this year.
Disney has been losing streaming users even though it still has IPL TV rights. Bob Iger, the corporation’s chief executive, stated in July that the company was open to selling TV assets, and numerous stories have suggested that this may include selling off its India operation. Disney opted not to respond.
Disney’s choice to make the World Cup free to access on mobile devices brings to light the difficulties in drawing large crowds to a nation where the purchasing power is far lower than in Western markets. The organization had previously tried offering free online access to the IPL and other cricket competitions.
The World Cup match this year does, however, fall within India’s festive season, a two-month stretch of back-to-back religious holidays, including Diwali, which often encourages a spike in consumer spending.
According to Indian cricket writer Ayaz Memon, no other nation supports cricket with as much financial stability as India does.
Disney wants to match the roughly 800 million viewers of the most recent IPL with its free mobile streaming and TV broadcasts, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.
India is the overwhelming favorite in the competition, having last claimed a World Cup victory in 2011. A premature exit might be damaging to Disney and the sponsors and cause a rapid decline in domestic interest.
That’s not like the IPL, though. The source claimed that “viewership tends to hold up, regardless of which team is eliminated.” “That would be a big dent if, God forbid, India were to get eliminated early.”
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Mukesh Ambani wants to defeat Disney in the Indian streaming war.
However, it will be challenging to top the IPL buzz. Thanks in large part to its three-hour match length and shorter format, the IPL has grown to be one of the most lucrative sports leagues in the world since its 2008 debut. With each game spanning a day during the World Cup, the game is longer.
According to Media Partners Asia, a consultancy, advertisers would spend about $300 million on the World Cup, compared to about $480 million during the IPL this year.
According to Mihir Shah, an analyst at Media Partners Asia, “so much is running on these 75 days of the festive season.” It will nearly resemble a carnival in terms of consumer expenditure.