Facebook has again suffered a setback in India, this time finding that around US$600m wasn't enough to secure five years worth of digital distribution rights for cricket matches.
Cricket is India's national sport and television audiences exceed fifty million for many of the 60 matches in the annual Indian Premier League (IPL). Digital audiences are also large and marketers increasingly see the sport as the way to crack the Indian market. Intel, for example, launched an x86-packing cricket-bat-speed-tracking gadget in May and promised new ways to experience the game in virtual reality.
Amazon and Yahoo! signed up for the rights auction but chose not to participate, leaving Facebook the only technology company to lodge a bid and the highest bidder for digital rights to the IPK within India, at 3,900 Crore Rupees or about $600m.
Facebook lost out to a consolidated bid covering TV and digital offered by 21st-Century-Fox-owned Star India, which will pay more than five times what Facebook proposed for IPL rights across all electronic media.
Facebook's loss in the auction comes on top of India ruling its “Free Basics” Internet-lite plan illegal on grounds it breaches net neutrality laws and leaves the company without access to content that millions of locals enjoy, but with $600m still in its coffers. ®