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Sony still has opportunity in India for crowd-pleasing sports rights

Sony Pictures Networks India has picked up rights to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics on the cheap as it looks to secure access to more content to satisfy its sports-mad viewer base. Sony has lost out on a number of key sports properties to rival, Indian channel Star, but was able to pick up rights to the next Olympics for a reported $12m, a significant drop from the $20m Star paid for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. While Star holds rights to much of the premium cricket in India, it is actually customers to the SonyLiv SVoD service who have the highest interest and willingness to pay for sports, making this a key battleground as competitors vie for rights.

Cricket is the most popular sport, with over 30% of SonyLIV customers saying they are willing to pay to watch the major cricket fixtures, reaching 41% for the ICC cricket World Cup. However, with Star scooping up the premier cricket rights, tying up Indian Premier League and ICC core rights until 2022 and 2023, Sony is left with a more limited pool of high-profile content to play with. In addition to the Olympics, Sony was previously able to secure streaming rights for India‚Äôs cricket tours to South Africa, England, and Australia, and the FIFA World Cup in Russia.

Our analysis shows there are other key sports rights that could serve Sony well in the Indian market. Tennis is a popular sport among SonyLiv customers, with 16.6% saying they would be willing to pay to watch Wimbledon, and 15.1% the US Open. There is also a high over-index among SonyLIV subscribers willing to pay for niche sports, with a 120% over-index from the national average for Moto GP and 80% over-index for WWE wrestling.