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MUMBAI: Amazon’s rivalry in India with oil-to-retail conglomerate Reliance Industries looks set to head to the cricket field, where they will likely battle media heavyweights for telecast rights to India’s premier cricket league with its hundreds of millions of viewers.

Amazon.com Inc and Reliance Industries Ltd are expected to take on India units of Sony Group Corp and Walt Disney Co for exclusive five-year TV and digital broadcast rights to the two-month series of matches, at a cost that could run to a record 500 billion rupees ($6.7 billion), sources familiar with the companies’ plans said.

“Cricket is the second-biggest sport in the world with two-and-a-half billion fans and IPL is like its Super Bowl,” said Anton Rublievskyi, head of Parimatch, a betting company that advertised at the Indian Premier League (IPL) last year.

“If you’re not there, you do not exist.”

Disney-owned Star India, which is one of the top broadcasters in India along with Sony and its planned acquisition Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd, paid 163.48 billion rupees for the digital and television rights until 2022. The league’s matches reached 350 million viewers during the first half of the 2021 season alone.

But traditional media firms now face stiff competition from deep-pocketed rivals like Reliance, India’s biggest retailer, and Amazon, two billionaire-led behemoths competing for the fast-growing e-commerce market while building up their digital platforms.

Amazon and Reliance are already locked in a pitched courtroom battle over the acquisiton of assets of Future Group, another big India retailer. Reliance is also in talks with investors, including foreigners, to raise up to $1.6 billion for its broadcasting joint venture, Viacom18.

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