Amazon won’t be bidding for the IPL media rights for the year 2023 to 2027, a person familiar with the matter said, leaving the hotly contested streaming auction to Disney and Reliance. The e-commerce giant was one of the several tech giants that had been preparing to participate in the the much awaited auction, scheduled to take place on Sunday.

The e-commerce group, which has deployed about $6.5 billion in its India business and operates Prime Video streaming service, has relayed to BCCI, the cricket board overseeing the IPL tournament, that it won’t be participating in the bid, the person said, requesting anonymity as the details are private. Media reports as early as this morning were drumming up a supposed war between Ambani, one of Asia’s richest men, and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

Ambani’s Reliance operates the largest retail chain in India and also the largest telecom operator.

Tens of millions of people around India watch IPL, one of the most popular cricket tournaments where 10 teams race to win the title over a course of two months and more than six dozen matches. The popularity of IPL has helped Disney set several global streaming records in the past.

Disney, which currently holds the streaming rights, and Mukesh Ambani-controlled Reliance are expected to go neck-to-neck for the auction, which industry analysts expect could be worth $4 billion to $7 billion.

Star India, a Fox subsidiary, won the last five-year rights auction with a $2.5 billion bid in 2017. Google and Facebook, which made a significant bet for the five year rights last time, are also unlikely to make major bidding, people familiar with the matter said.

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Winning IPL rights would have allowed Amazon to significantly draw several new customers to its streaming app, Prime Video. The company’s service, which already streams some cricket matches, is among one of the most popular on-demand video streaming apps in the South Asian market, thanks in part to an increasingly growing number of original titles.

“OTT market in India is highly competitive with ~40 platforms. Disney Hotstar is the OTT leader with best sports content (+ IPL cricket). Hotstar subscriber base is ~50 Mn (~30% of Disney + subscriber base). Amazon Prime has seen strong growth with high investments in original content. Amazon Prime Video subscriber base is~16 Mn & Netflix at ~ 5.5 Mn paid subs. Sony Liv/Zee merger has created another strong player,” analysts at Bernstein wrote earlier this year.



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