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Viacom18 enters strategic partnership with CSA; gets SA20 League media rights for Indian market

Viacom18 Sports grabs media rights for the Indian market for SA20 League, the Twenty20 league in South Africa. SA20 League is set to be launched in January 2023.

Viacom18 Sports snatched media rights for Indian market for SA20 League (Photo: ©ICC/Getty Images)
Viacom18 Sports snatched media rights for Indian market for SA20 League (Photo: ©ICC/Getty Images)

Viacom18 Sports has snatched the media rights for the Indian market at an undisclosed amount for SA20 League, the new Twenty20 league in South Africa, which is set to be launched in January 2023, a hurdle that wasn’t breached by Global League T20 and the Mzansi Super League on earlier occasions.

In case of the Indian Premier League (IPL) media rights, a few months ago Viacom18 had also clinched the digital rights for the next five-year period at an amount of INR 23,758 crore.

Viacom18 to broadcast SA20 in India

The strategic partnership jointly declared by Viacom18 and Cricket South Africa (CSA) on November 2, is for 10 years and will be shown on Sports18 television channel and digitally on Jio platforms.

Even though the value of the deal hasn’t been disclosed by the two sides, it is understood that the number could be lower than SA20’s asking price of US$ 100 million for a ten-year period.

The tournament will be broadcasted in South Africa by SuperSport, which also owns a 30 per cent stake in SA20, CSA owns 50 per cent and former IPL chief executive Sundar Raman owns the rest 20 per cent.

The CSA tender process didn’t appear to be getting an encouraging response last month which led them to have negotiations with Viacom18, a joint venture between Network18 Group and Paramount Networks.

“We expect significant viewership and fan engagement”: Viacom18 Sports CEO Anil Jayaraj

The SA20 League features six teams- Johannesburg Super Kings, Pretoria Capitals, Durban Super Giants Sunrisers Eastern Cape, Paarl Royals and MI Cape Town - owned by groups that have teams across various global leagues, including the Indian Premier League (IPL). It is learnt that most of the games in the SA20 will be played during the India prime time.

“We continue to offer fans an immersive and engaging experience by strengthening our sports portfolio with some of the best cricket action through SA20,” Viacom18 Sports CEO Anil Jayaraj expects significant viewership and fan engagement given the games will be played in India prime time.

“T20 is the most popular cricket format with Indian fans. The history and legacy of South African cricket and the popularity of South African cricketers in India make a thrilling proposition for cricket fans in India.”

SA20 Auction_ Tristan Stubbs becomes the costliest player in the first edition of South Africa T20 League _ Walking Wicket (Photo_ ©Getty Images_Twitter)
Tristan Stubbs was the costliest buy at the SA20 League Auction (Photo: ©Getty Images/Twitter)

Backdrop of the failure of Global League T20

The Global League T20, which was expected to be organised starting from 2017-18 season, didn’t kick off due to failure to land a broadcast deal for the proposed league. However, as per reports, the former CSA chief executive, Haroon Lorgat has throughout maintained a broadcast deal was in place for the proposed league but the league was instead ditched due to political infighting at the board.

Lorgat and CSA parted ways in that season. Lorgat’s successor at the CSA, Thabang Moroe, first tried to make the GLT20 happen but it was later abandoned.

Under Moroe, CSA created the Mzansi Super League without any private ownership. The six-team tournament that ran for two years in 2018 and 2019 failed to collect a major broadcast deal and CSA lost around Rand 100 million (US$ 5.5 million approx.) per season of the competition, which was clearly financially unsustainable. Moroe was later fired for misconduct in 2020 as the league was suspended during the Covid pandemic.

In April this year CSA announced a third attempt at a franchise T20 tournament - the SA20

“Today is a ground-breaking day for South African cricket. The long-term partnership between the SA20 and Viacom18 as our official Indian broadcaster is a catalyst that supports our ambitions to build the world’s second biggest league,” said former South Africa captain and SA20 League Commissioner, Graeme Smith. “With six IPL owners expanding their brands in South Africa, Viacom18 are the perfect partner to take the SA20 into the homes of the passionate and cricket-loving Indian market.”

The inaugural edition of the SA20 is expected to begin from the first week of January in 2023 and run for around four weeks where a total of 33 matches will be played.


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