12 September was an emotional day for Real Madrid, the most successful club in Spanish football. Before the players took to the field to take on Celta Vigo, the club paid tribute to its former president Lorenzo Sanz, who died of Covid last year.
Indian fans of Real Madrid saw none of this. Coverage of the match on youth entertainment channel MTV and streaming platform Voot began just as the players entered the pitch. There were no pre-match, half-time, or post-match shows—something Indian football fans watching the Indian Super League (ISL) or England’s Premier League on sports channels are used to.
However, these are still early days in MTV and Voot parent Viacom18’s football broadcasting journey. The 14-year-old company, a joint venture between Indian television network TV18 and American media conglomerate ViacomCBS, has broadcast minor European football tournaments like the Carabao Cup in the past. But nothing close to the stature of LaLiga, Serie A, and Ligue 1—the top football leagues in Spain, Italy, and France, respectively.
Viacom18 picked up the three-year broadcast rights for all three leagues over July and August 2021 for undisclosed amounts. The company has still not started producing any content around these properties, but that’s likely to change soon enough. Because earlier this month, Viacom18 bagged arguably the most prestigious property in world football. According to reports, it shelled out shelled out SportsBusiness Viacom18 lands Fifa World Cup 2022 rights Read more $55 million to broadcast the 2022 Fifa World Cup in India.
Viacom18 has over a year to bring its A-game for the World Cup, but that’s not the only shark it’s fishing for in the vast sports broadcast ocean. In fact, football is not even its main focus. The Ken has learnt that the company has its eyes on the three most lucrative sports properties in India—the Indian Premier League (IPL), the Indian cricket team’s home matches, and the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) tournaments, which include the World Cup. Viacom18 did not respond to The Ken’s request to participate in this story. A questionnaire sent to the company also elicited no response.
All three properties are currently with Star India, now part of The Walt Disney Company. But as The Ken has reported reported The Ken IPL cricket or not, Disney+ Hotstar has a plan B Read more earlier, Disney is preparing a plan B in case it loses out on its most lucrative cricket property—the IPL. The cricket tournament fetched it Rs 3,000 crore ($404 million) in ad revenue last year. The next five-year IPL rights cycle, which will be up for bidding in 2022, could cost at least Rs 20,000 crore ($2.7 billion), according to industry experts.