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Facebook-ICC Deal Spurs Competition in India Streaming Space

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Facebook (FB - Free Report) will stream all International Cricket Council (ICC) events in the Indian subcontinent till 2023, per a Reuters report on Sep 26. The deal includes next two World Twenty20 events in 2020 and 2022, the 50-over World Cup in 2023 and the World Test Championship final in 2023.

India, in terms of user base, is one of the fastest-growing markets for Facebook. The social media giant has been focusing on sports, particularly cricket, which is immensely popular in the country, to expand its streaming footprint.

Notably, a recent KPMG India study estimates India to have 500 million streaming subscribers by 2023, up from the current 300 million. This will make India the second-biggest streaming market trailing China, where Facebook has no official presence.

Moreover, Kantar IMRB expects India to have an Internet user base of 627 million and Google estimates 650 million users in 2019, opening up a significant opportunity for streaming platforms like Disney (DIS - Free Report) owned Hotstar, Amazon (AMZN - Free Report) , SonyLiv, Netflix (NFLX - Free Report) , Apple (AAPL - Free Report) and Facebook.

However, the social-media giant’s first attempt to enter India’s streaming market was unsuccessful as it lost the bid for the Indian Premier League (IPL) in September 2017. Star India, now a Disney company post the 21st Century Fox buyout, won both the broadcast and digital rights for IPL.

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Sports Content Coverage in India: Disney & Sony Leading

The ICC deal is a notable win for Facebook as the digital rights will help the social media giant expand its footprint in India’s streaming space. However, the company is expected to face stiff competition from both Disney and Sony in the lucrative sports streaming arena.

Disney’s Hotstar, currently dominates the cricket streaming space in India, owing to IPL rights. It also holds the global digital rights for all international cricket matches to be played in India through 2023 due to a deal with the Board of Control of Cricket in India.  

Moreover, Hotstar has been leading the live cricket streaming space in terms of viewership. Per a TechCrunch article, it created a global record of 18.6 million “concurrent viewers” during the 2019 IPL final between Chennai Super Kings and Sunrisers Hyderabad. Hotstar's viewership for the 2019 IPL season reached more than 300 million.

SonyLIV, which is operated by Sony Pictures Networks India (SPN), an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of Sony (SNE - Free Report) , is not far behind. The streaming service provider has the rights for India’s cricket tours to South Africa, England and Australia.

Moreover, other sports like Football, Formula 1, Tennis, Hockey and Kabaddi have garnered sizeable interest in recent years. Both Hotstar and SonyLiv have invested significantly in non-cricket related sports content as well.

While Hotstar streams pro Kabaddi League, EPL, German Bundesliga, Formula One racing, and Wimbledon and the U.S. Open tennis, SonyLiv offers Australian Open tennis, the NBA, MotoGP, UEFA Champions League soccer, WWE and more.

Notably, post the failed IPL attempt, Facebook ventured into India’s sports streaming market by winning digital rights of Spain’s La Liga football matches.

Pricing War Intensifies Due to Rising Competition

Facebook is expected to face tough competition from the growing popularity of subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) services provided by Hotstar, Amazon Prime Video, SonyLiv, Netflix, Apple, Voot and others.

Per eMarketer projections, there will be 140.2 million SVOD users in 2019, which will reach 159.7 million by 2020. This presents strong growth prospects for SVOD service providers like Hotstar.

Notably, according to a Counterpoint Research survey, Hotstar also leads the overall video streaming market in India. Moreover, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video are highly popular in India’s metros.

Apart from solid sports-related and entertainment content, Hotstar benefits from cheap pricing. Notably, Hotstar VIP is one of the cheapest OTT services (INR365/year) showcasing live sports, local content from Star India and web originals.

Netflix has also launched more affordable mobile-only plans — INR65 weekly or INR260 monthly — which however is quite pricey compared to Hotstar’s INR199 monthly pack.

Furthermore, Apple has competitively priced its upcoming Apple TV+ at INR99 or $1.40 a month. Moreover, partnership with ErosNow is expected to widen the iPhone maker’s prospects in India.

Zacks Rank

Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Sony currently have a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

However, Hotstar-parent Disney has a Zacks Rank #5 (Strong Sell).

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