afaqs! news bureau

What made news in the media world in 2022?

A brief recap of the most significant events from the year gone by.

Mergers, acquisitions, media rights for sports properties, alternative revenue models and what not! It has been quite an eventful year for the Indian media. From Adani’s acquisition of NDTV to the auctions for both IPL and ICC media rights, afaqs! has closely covered them all. As the year closes, we bring to you a roundup of some of the most significant events of the past year. 

Year of Media Rights 

Broadcasters dipped deep into their pockets to secure cricketing media rights in 2022.  

Indian Premier League (IPL) turned a decacorn in 2022 — valued at $10.9 billion — mainly owing to the price the two broadcasters paid to secure the media rights for India’s most valuable annual sporting event. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) sold IPL media rights for 2023-2027 for a hefty sum of Rs 48,390 crore, or $6.2 billion, in June 2022. 

Disney Star has retained the television media rights for the Indian Premier League (IPL) at a price of Rs 23,575 crore for five years. Viacom18 has grabbed consolidated digital rights at Rs 23,758 crore. 

Disney Star and Zee Media staged a coup this year by entering into a strategic partnership to split TV and digital media rights for the International Cricket Council (ICC) men’s and women’s global events till the end of 2027 for the Indian market. 

The winning bid by Disney Star was around USD 3 billion for a four-year cycle. Shortly after winning the TV and digital rights for an eye-popping sum, Disney Star offered up the TV rights of the men’s and Under-19 matches to Zee. Zee will be able to air the matches live and not carry highlights and other match-related content. 

BCCI opened the tender process for Women’s IPL media rights in 2022.

The Uday Shankar Redux 

Reliance and Viacom18 entered into a strategic partnership with Bodhi Tree Systems backed by media maven Uday Shankar and James Murdoch. The duo invested Rs. 13,500 crore in Viacom18. Further, the JioCinema app was transferred to Viacom18.

With this new OTT app acquisition, Viacom18 telecast the Qatar FIFA World Cup on the JioCinema app at no cost and neither did it seek registrations from users. The telecast of the FIFA World Cup was supported completely by advertising revenue. The broadcaster also launched the sports channel Sports18 to air all sporting events the broadcaster acquired recently. 

Viewers complained about the quality of the telecast on JioCinema.

Viacom18 will be streaming LaLiga, Ligue1, and Serie A on JioCinema for free. These football league matches were earlier streaming on Voot. 

It remains to be seen whether Viacom18 will stream IPL on Voot, the original OTT platform belonging to Viacom18 or rely on the wide-spread reach of JioCinema which is not restricted to Jio users alone anymore. 

Streaming Round-up

After witnessing a dramatic peak during the COVID19-induced lockdowns, the new normal brought several changes to the OTT world this year. 

For the first time in 10 years Netflix lost subscribers. It lost 200,000 subscribers in the first quarter and another 1 million in the second. With this the streaming platform launched an ad-supported tier in November for the consumers who prefer to pay a lower price to watch content on the platform. The 'basic with ads' plan is available for USD 6.99 in the United States, Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Spain, and the United Kingdom. However, media reports suggest that the cheaper plan is not fuelling subscriber growth. 

Meanwhile, Amazon launched Prime Video Store, its transactional video-on-demand (TVOD) movie rental service in India, in April. The pay-per-movie service expanded Prime Video’s customer base as it is available to all Prime and non-Prime members.

Warner Bros. Discovery put its plans to launch popular American subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) service HBO Max in India on hold, as part of its global cost-cutting measures. The move prompted the India content head of HBO Max, Saugata Mukherjee, to quit within one year of joining.

However, the global entertainment giant plans to merge its two popular streaming services- Discovery+ and HBO Max - in the existing markets. In November, the CEO David Zaslav announced that the target date for the launch of the new service in the US would be advanced from summer 2023 to spring 2023. The service will roll out in Latin America and Europe in 2024. 

Resumption of News TV ratings

In March, Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India resumed the publishing of TV news ratings after 18 months. It had suspended ratings in October 2020 after allegations that channel ratings were rigged by a few influential broadcasters.

However, some television news channels have raised concerns with the rating and have pulled out of the system. In March, NDTV pulled out, followed by Zee Media in September and iTV Network in November.

Adani takes over reins of NDTV

On August 23, Adani group subsidiary AMG Media Networks Limited (AMNL) indirectly acquired 29.18% stake in NDTV. On November 22, the Group launched an open offer to acquire an additional 26% stake in the television channel. The offer closed on December 5, leaving the conglomerate with 37.44% stake in NDTV. On December 23, NDTV founders Prannoy Roy and Radhika Roy decided to sell 27.26% of their 32.26% shareholding to Adani’s and exited the company. With this, the Adani’s have nearly 65% stakes in the company.

Though the Roys would retain a 5% minority stake in the company, they have resigned as directors from the board of RRPR Holding, the promoter group of NDTV. On December 23, the NDTV board approved the appointment of two additional directors Sanjay Pugalia and Senthil Chengalvarayan.

Zee-Sony: The great media merger

In December 2021, ZEE and Culver Max Entertainment (formerly Sony Pictures Networks India) entered into an agreement to merge the two companies, combining their linear networks, digital assets, production operations and programme libraries. 

The merged entity will become India's second-largest entertainment network by revenue with 75 TV channels, two video streaming services -- ZEE5 and Sony LIV, two film studios -- Zee Studios and Sony Pictures Films India, and a digital content studio (Studio NXT). ZEE's chief executive Punit Goenka will lead the merged company as its MD and CEO.

In July, Indian stock exchanges BSE and NSE approved the merger. In October the Competition Commission of India (CCI) also gave its approval, subject to certain modifications in the deal. In the same month, Zee’s shareholders also voted in favour of the proposed merger at its extraordinary general meeting (EGM).

In January 2023, the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) will hear requests from ZEE lenders against the merger.

Amendments to the NTO 2.0

After almost three years of litigations and discussions, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) issued amendments to the NTO 2.0 in November. It has decided to not prescribe a ceiling on the maximum retail price (MRP) of pay channels and continue with the MRP ceiling of Rs 19 for a channel to be a part of a bouquet. The order will now be implemented in February 2023.

Disney’s Tale of Two Bobs

After less than a year in retirement, Robert A. Iger (Bob Iger) returned as the CEO of the Walt Disney Company in November, after Bob Chapek stepped down from his position. Iger will be the CEO for the next two years. 

The Board has mandated Iger to set the strategic direction for renewed growth and to work closely with the Board in developing a successor to lead the Company at the completion of his term.

Under the influence of Musk

Maverick businessman, Elon Musk, initiated the takeover of the micro-blogging platform Twitter in April 2022 and completed it after intense corporate drama in October 2022. He bought it at his original offer price of $44 billion. CEO, Parag Agrawal, CFO Ned Segal, and public policy head Vijaya Gadde were among the first to be let go from the company. What followed was a slew of resignations and layoffs. The India office has let go of 90% of its staff.

Musk’s leadership of Twitter is mercurial and full of U-turns. Wary advertisers paused ad spending on the platform. Media agencies GroupM, Omnicom advised clients against spending on Twitter. Brands like Audi, General Motors, Mondelez International, and Pfizer, also announced that they would withhold ad spends on the platform.

Musk announced a paid Twitter Blue service which once implemented led to fake verified accounts cropping up. He reconsidered the move and re-launched it a few weeks later with a new hierarchy of tick colours. Gold check marks for businesses and grey check marks for government accounts. He announced a new content moderation policy too and reinstated the Twitter account of former US President Donald Trump. 

On December 21, Musk said he would step down as CEO and find a replacement following a Twitter poll he conducted asking his followers to vote on whether or not he should continue as the CEO of the company. 

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