With the Zee-Sony merger collapsing and the Disney Star-Zee cricket deal scrapped, the question of how ICC events will be broadcasted in India remains unanswered.
In a dramatic turn of events, Zee Entertainment has pulled out of its $1.4 billion deal with Disney Star for TV broadcast rights to major ICC tournaments, throwing the future of Indian cricket viewership into uncertainty. This comes amidst the complete unraveling of the much-anticipated $10 billion merger between Zee and Sony.
Industry sources confirmed to PTI that Zee Entertainment would not move forward with the cricket rights deal, despite having already missed the first payment instalment of $200 million.
This decision throws a wrench into the plans for upcoming ICC events like the 2024 and 2026 T20 World Cups and the 2025 Champions Trophy, as Zee was set to hold exclusive TV broadcast rights.
Sony-Zee merger falls apart
Adding to the chaos, Sony Corporation officially terminated its merger agreement with Zee on Monday, seeking $90 million for alleged breach of terms and initiating arbitration.
As per the agreement, Sony was to invest $1.575 billion in Zee and hold a majority stake, but the collapse of the deal leaves both companies facing an uncertain future.
Disney Star holds streaming rights
While Zee abandons TV broadcast, Disney Star retains exclusive streaming rights for all ICC events through its platform Disney+ Hotstar.
This move leaves millions of Indian cricket fans who prefer traditional TV viewing in a quandary, unsure how they will be able to catch major tournaments in the future.
Legal battles ahead
Zee has approached the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) in hopes of forcing Sony to honor the merger agreement. Meanwhile, Sony is contesting Zee’s $90 million claim through arbitration in Singapore.
With the Zee-Sony merger collapsing and the Disney Star-Zee cricket deal scrapped, the question of how ICC events will be broadcasted in India remains unanswered. Fans anxiously await clarity on the future of their favorite sport, as both legal proceedings and negotiations regarding new broadcast deals unfold.