“India is the biggest cricket market on the planet”: Scott Weenink & Rajesh Kaul

“India is the biggest cricket market on the planet”: Scott Weenink & Rajesh Kaul

SPNI to broadcast and stream all NZ Cricket matches.

Scott Weenink & Rajesh Kaul

Mumbai: Sony Pictures Networks India (SPNI) has secured the exclusive television and digital rights to broadcast and stream all New Zealand Cricket matches, featuring BLACKCAPS and WHITE FERNS, in India and associated territories for the next seven years. This agreement, spanning from 1 May 2024, to 30 April 2031, encompasses India’s tours of New Zealand in the 2026-27 and 2030-31 seasons, as well as all bilateral Tests, ODIs, and T20Is held in New Zealand during this period.

As per media reports, the deal is estimated to be valued between $90 million to $100 million (equivalent to approximately Rs 749 crore to Rs 833 crore). All matches will be telecast and streamed live across SPNI’s sports channels and will be livestreamed on Sony LIV. Additionally, SPNI’s digital rights in India will be co-exclusive with Amazon Prime for the 2024-25 and 2025-26 seasons.

New Zealand have enjoyed major success in the recent years, with the inaugural World Test Championship title win in 2021 highlighting their accolades. The men’s team also finished runners-up in the previous T20 World Cup, winning millions of hearts with their spirited display.

Subsequently, cricket fans in the Indian subcontinent can look forward to watching the BLACKCAPS in action against India, Australia, England and Pakistan among others until the end of the 2031 season.

Indiantelevision.com had a delightful conversation with SPNI’s chief revenue officer - Distribution & International Business and Head - Sports Business, Rajesh Kaul and New Zealand Cricket CEO Scott Weenink, where each shared their take on the significance of this deal, evolution of digital platforms & streaming services and much more…

Edited excerpts

On Sony Pictures Networks India leveraging this partnership to enhance its sports content offerings

Kaul: We are a global multi-sports arena and the premier destination for sports fans. Our aim has been to strengthen our sports portfolio not only with cricket offerings but also in Tennis, Football, WWE, Fight sports, motorsports, domestic leagues and multi-sporting events among others.   We have been acquiring prestigious marquee properties at regular intervals and our sports acquisition strategy has always been guided by rational decisions. With the current media rights scenario in India, we feel that NZC cricket rights is something which adds significant value to our portfolio which currently comprises England and Wales Cricket Board and Sri Lanka Cricket.  Apart from Team India’s series in these nations, we will also broadcast the high-octane non-India cricket series hosted by these countries. We are also the home to the next two editions of the UEFA EUROs as well as home to three out of four Grand Slams on our network with Australian Open, Roland Garros & US Open. Recently, we announced the extension of broadcast rights for the UEFA Club competitions for an additional three years. Our objective has always been very clear, i.e., to serve sports fans with premium content in the form of diverse global and local properties and we will continue the momentum in the future.

On this collaboration contributing to the development of cricket in New Zealand

Weenink: Well, it’s obvious. India is the biggest cricket market on the planet. This is a big deal, which will help service the game of cricket in New Zealand from the grassroots up, men and women, and juniors. Also, by increasing the exposure of NZC and NZC Players to the Indian market, we are increasing both the commercial value of NZC and the individual intellectual property value of NZC Players.

On the role of digital platforms and streaming services evolving in the broadcasting of cricket matches, particularly in the context of this partnership

Weenink: AT NZC we’ve long held that digital and streaming is the future. I don’t think there’s much doubt about that.

However, it’s also true that linear is still massive in terms of the present day - representing more than half the consumer market in India.

Having an arrangement in which we can provide our games on both linear and digital is very important to us.

On some other strategies you have in place to maximize the success of this partnership and some innovative plans Sony Pictures Networks India has for enhancing the viewer experience during New Zealand cricket matches

Kaul: Cricket is the most popular sport in India and bilateral cricket series rights provide a broadcaster with access to regular high-quality cricket. The New Zealand Black Caps & Silver Ferns enjoy a strong following in India due to their highly competitive spirit and good sporting behaviour. Stars like Kane Williamson & Trent Boult are among the top followed international stars among cricket fans. Cricket rights for New Zealand helps in providing around the clock offering for sports fans. The addition of NZC to our cricket portfolio, which already includes ECB and SLC, helps engage the cricket fan with our network regularly through the year.

Our programming initiatives also play an integral role in attracting new audiences and we will continue the momentum with New Zealand Cricket matches. Sony Sports Network (SSN) broadcasts all the India matches in English, Hindi, Tamil and Telugu. For an enhanced viewing experience, we have virtual reality sets and augmented reality graphics. Our live studio show for cricket, Extraaa Innings, is an iconic SSN show since 2003. It has a relaxed, conversational manner of cricket coverage which eases into Indian homes like a member of their family and presents cricket from a unique human-interest angle which focuses on the emotions rather than over-analysis or microstats. In addition to this, we have always reached out to our cricket fans through our iconic campaigns like Love for Cricket knows no Boundaries, Ashes - Platinum Standard of Cricket among others and will also continue to do so with NZC series.