Facebook secures exclusive digital rights for ICC cricket events

If you’re a cricket fan, you will be visiting Facebook way more often in the coming months and years. The social juggernaut announced on Thursday it has partnered with the International Cricket Council (ICC), the global governing body of cricket, to secure exclusive digital content rights until 2023 for global ICC events in the Indian subcontinent.

As part of the four-year deal, financial details of which were not disclosed, Facebook will show post-match recaps and in-play key moments and other “feature content” of the matches in the Indian subcontinent. The exclusive rights are limited to the Indian subcontinent; elsewhere the company will carry post-match recaps. Facebook said it hopes to serve “hundreds of millions of cricket fans” through this “unprecedented” and “ground-breaking” deal.

A Facebook spokesperson told TechCrunch that the company won’t be live-streaming the matches in any market.

In a statement, Ajit Mohan, VP and managing director Facebook India, said, “with Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, the ICC has an exceptional opportunity to leverage our family of apps to serve current sports fans as well as bring in an entirely new generation of fans. Every day, people come to our platforms to talk about, and form friendships around, cricket. With this partnership, we will be able to serve these fans with the kind of premium content that can ignite new conversations, new connections and new followership.”

Though not as popular in the U.S., cricket is one of the most celebrated sporting events in many key Facebook markets, including the U.K., India and Australia. How popular? Hotstar, a streaming service in India owned by Disney, has set global record for most concurrent views on a live-streaming event thanks to cricket.

Facebook is well aware. In 2017, the company bid $600 million for online streaming rights of IPL, a popular cricket tournament in India, for a period of five years. It lost the bid to Star India, which operates Hotstar. Last year, the company tested the waters after it acquired streaming rights to show La Liga games in India.

The recently concluded ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup garnered 4.6 billion video views across ICC’s digital and social media platforms, ICC said.

Today’s deal includes coverage of the following events: ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2020, ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2020, ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup 2021, ICC World Test Championship Final 2021, ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021, ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2022, ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023, ICC World Test Championship Final 2023, ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Qualifier 2019, ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2022, ICC U19 Cricket World Cup 2020 and ICC U19 Cricket World Cup 2022.

Last year, Star India acquired digital and TV rights to live-stream and broadcast all of Indian cricket teams’ matches globally for a sum of $944 million.

Facebook’s Mohan, who served as the chief executive of Hotstar prior to joining the social juggernaut, added, “the future of AR and VR is being charted by Facebook and we are excited about the possibility of bringing the best of our innovations to fans around the world.”