According to a Bloomberg report, tech giants Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) and Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) are among several bidders vying for the online streaming rights of Indian Premier League cricket matches.
The move is aimed at getting in front of India’s already massive but rapidly growing online audience. Analysts estimate that the country will boast 730 million internet users by the year 2020, and cricket is by far India’s most popular sport. From Bloomberg:
Indian Premier League received an “overwhelming response” from as many as 18 Indian and global media and technology companies, the Board of Control for Cricket in India said in a statement on Tuesday. Other bidders include BT Group Plc and Sky Plc as well as global media companies 21st-Century-Fox-owned Star India Pvt., Sony Pictures Networks India Pvt. and ESPN Digital Media (India) Pvt.
Suresh Vaidyanathan, an Indian spokesperson for Twitter, noted that tweets related to the IPL surged 56% this year, and that some 90% of Indian Twitter users are cricket fans.
“The hunger for cricket and the real possibility of consuming it live on a personal device makes for a hugely engaging combination, and that’s what the global companies are going for,” said Shabir Momin, managing director of Singapore-based ZengaTV.com, one of the largest over-the-top and digital video services in India.
Amazon is already betting big on India’s ecommerce market, where it’s rapidly becoming the most popular destination for Indian shoppers. Facebook, too, has seen its Indian reach explode in recent years. Some 67% of FB’s total user base resides in emerging markets, and India is projected to lead the company’s growth in the developing world.
As India’s economy continues to develop, and its internet users surge, investors can expect similar battles to be waged in other areas, as well. The potential opportunities are huge, and Amazon and Facebook clearly understand what’s at stake — and are willing to pay up to be a major part of the digital revolution abroad.
Facebook shares rose $1.36 (+1.06%) to $128.90 in Tuesday afternoon trading. Year-to-date, shares of the world’s largest network have surged 23.2%.
Meanwhile, Amazon shares rose $7.04 (+0.87%) to $819.99. Year-to-date, the largest retailer in the world has gained 21.63%.