IPL leaves Sky for Star Gold and Hotstar in the UK
Sky Sports, the UK pay-television broadcaster that has been home to cricket’s Indian Premier League in recent years, will not be showing the 2019 tournament, which starts later this week.
Instead the high-profile Twenty20 competition will be televised live on Star Gold, a channel owned by global rights-holder Star India, which is available on the Sky and Virgin Media pay-TV platforms in the UK.
Fans can also follow the tournament via Star’s international OTT streaming service Hotstar, which costs £11.99 ($15.91) per month in the UK.
Sky has been broadcasting the IPL since 2014 and showed the 2018 tournament under what was described as a multi-year agreement with then stable-mate Star, which holds global rights to the competition in a five-year deal worth Rs163.5 billion ($2.37 billion), running to 2022.
However, in a statement to customers on Tuesday, Sky said: “It has been confirmed that Star India will exploit the rights themselves this year so Sky will not be covering the IPL cricket in 2019.”
This year’s competition, which features various England stars, including Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler, begins on Saturday, and concludes with the final on 19 May.
It is thought that Sky has lost the rights to the IPL after a change in ownership which has seen the UK broadcaster pass from the control of Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox to US media giant Comcast.
In the meantime, Star is part of the $71.3-billion deal under which Disney is acquiring a majority of the media and entertainment assets of Fox.
Meanwhile, the BCCI has rejected a request from Star to enable political advertisements to be shown in breaks in play during this year’s IPL.
The issue was discussed at a BCCI board meeting this week, and the governing body confirmed its current policy of not allowing any political or religious commercials to be shown.
Star had hoped to generate extra revenue from political advertising, with general elections to take place in India between 11 April and 23 May.
However, the broadcaster is still expected to raise Rs21 billion in advertising from the 12th edition of the IPL, up from Rs17.5 billion for the 2018 competition, the first televised by Star.
A source close to the process claimed that 80 per cent of the inventory has already been sold, telling Economic Times: "It's been a really strong year and the response from the advertisers has overshot our earlier projections. This is testimony to the value IPL delivered last year and the plans we have this season."
IPL teams are continuing to announce sponsors for the 2019 campaign with Royal Challengers Bangalore yesterday presenting Max Life Insurance as their official life insurance partner, while the Delhi Capitals have today unveiled a new tie-up with Chinese electronics firm TCL.
In other developments, the BCCI has received a payment of around $1.6 million from the Pakistan Cricket Board after the latter lost a case it pursued against the Indian board for failing to honour a bilateral series agreement.
The PCB file a claim to the Dispute Resolution Committee of the International Cricket Council last year demanding around $70 million in compensation.
However, the ICC dismissed the case and accepted the Indian explanation after a review, subsequently ordering the PCB to cover India’s legal costs.
The PCB argued that the BCCI had signed a binding memorandum of understanding for six bilateral series to be played between 2015 and 2023, but none of the series have taken place amid security concerns and political tensions between Pakistan and India.
The BCCI insisted that the agreement was simply a proposal and not a legally binding understanding, and also that in any case it had not received permission from the Indian government to play Pakistan during the period in question, an argument that was accepted by the ICC.
Furthermore, the BCCI has agreed to work with the country’s National Anti-Doping Agency for drug testing on a trial basis for the next six months.
The board has previously been aligned with the Sweden-based International Doping Tests and Management, a relationship that dates back to 2008.
The change of policy comes after the World Anti-Doping Agency asked Indian cricketers to make themselves available for testing by NADA.
The issue of the BCCI not wanting to come under NADA’s responsibility was thought to be hindering the ICC’s push for cricket to be added to the programme of the Olympic Games. The ICC requires all of its members to be WADA-compliant if the sport is to be elevated to the Olympics.