Upstart U.S.-Based Major League Cricket to Stream on ESPN+ Beginning July 13

The upstart U.S. professional Major League Cricket is set to begin its inaugural July 13-30 season with teams from six cities competing in 15 matches streaming on Disney-owned ESPN+. The MLC also inked a broadcast/streaming rights deal in India with Viacom 18, a Mumbi media conglomerate co-owned by Paramount Global.

While the origins of cricket date back to the 1600’s England, and the sport is considered an ancestor to American baseball, cricket has only become a hot commodity in recent years after the streaming service Disney+ generated almost 40% of its initial global subscriber base in India due to the sport.

That was due in large part to the Disney+ Hotstar platform having exclusive rights to the Indian Premier League (IPL) — a 10-city annual tournament that generates a national following in the world’s second-most-populous country.

When Disney+ lost the IPL digital rights this year to Viacom 18 in a deal worth billions of dollars, the streamer saw almost 5 million subscribers in India drop the service.

Regardless, Disney+ Hotstar remains India’s most-popular streaming platform with 29% market share (50 million subscribers), with Prime Video 12.4 million (7%) and Netflix 6.2 million (3.6%) significantly behind, according to Q1 data from Ampere Analysis.

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Viacom Launching Ad-Supported Indian-Themed VOD Service in the U.K.

Viacom CEO Bob Bakish has vowed to expand the media conglomerate’s entertainment assets globally.

In November, Viacom 18 Media’s ad-supported Voot streaming video service will expand operations to the United Kingdom – the first of several planned international markets launches.

Viacom 18, which is majority (51%) owned by Mumbai, India’s TV18 and 49% by Viacom, will produce 18 original multi-lingual, multi-genre series for the platform through its Viacom 18 Motion Pictures unit. A news service is slated for as well.

“Voot is integral to our strategy as we gear up for a future-ready Viacom18 that is screen, platform and pipe agnostic,” Sudhanshu Vats, managing director at Voot, said in a statement. “We are building a digital-first brand to harness [our] strengths across its brands, creative franchises and businesses in multiple Indian languages.”

With an Indian origin population of around 1.8 million consumers, the U.K. market presents a significant opportunity for Voot to leverage.

Voot Originals will feature content across multiple genres, psychology, mystery, sports biopics, comedy, drama, thriller, politics, history, crime and suspense, among others.

“The digital medium brings us close to the consumer at a very personal level,” said Monika Shergill, head of content at Viacom18 Digital Ventures. “Our entire content strategy is based on a deep data backed analysis of the needs and desires of our consumers and their consumption preferences and patterns.”

Voot said it would also will also strengthen its user interactivity options with the adoption of Google Watch Action, an industry first in the Asia-Pacific region for premium OTT players. Voot’s platform will also employ Dolby Surround Sound for all original programming – a first for Indian-based OTT video services.

“At an execution level, we have been extremely lucky to be partnering with a galaxy of very talented and committed actors, writers and directors to bring forth our second bundle of Voot Originals,” said Shergill.