Neo sells broadcasting biz in US to Willow TV

Neo sells broadcasting biz in US to Willow TV

MUMBAI: Harish Thawani-promoted Nimbus Communications continues to trim down operations of its sports business. Neo Sports Broadcast, a subsidiary of Nimbus Communications, has sold off its US subsidiary Neo Broadcast America to Willow TV, the largest cricket broadcaster in US and Canada.

The move is part of a restructuring exercise in order to focus on Neo?s core market which is India and the subcontinent.

Neo Sports Broadcast COO Prasanna Krishnan confirmed the development to without revealing the terms of the deal.

"We have sold our subsidiary company in US to Willow TV. We want to focus on the Indian subcontinent as it is the biggest market for us," says Prasanna.

Willow TV CEO Vijay Srinivasan was unavailable for comment till the time of filing this report.

Neo Broadcast America owns and operates Neo Cricket that was last year rebranded as Neo Prime. The rebranding was necessitated following the termination of Nimbus Sport?s broadcast rights agreement by the BCCI due to non-payment of licence fee.

Willow TV owns and operates an online cricket streaming platform besides a dedicated cricket channel called Willow Cricket, which is also the first cricket channel in US.

The acquisition will combine Willow TV?s strong content line-up with Neo Prime?s strong distribution. It will make Willow TV a big player in the US market by helping it plug loopholes in distribution.

The cricket broadcaster holds broadcast rights for almost all major cricket boards including BCCI, Cricket South Africa (CSA), England Cricket Board (ECB), Cricket Australia (CA), and New Zealand Cricket (NZC)

While, Neo Prime is a well-distributed channel and is available on major platforms like Dish Network, Comcast Xfinity, Optimum, Time Warner Cable and Cox Communications.

Comparably, Willow TV?s own channel Willow Cricket is only available on DirecTV and Dish Network.

The presence of a sizeable diaspora from cricket playing countries including India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and West Indies only makes the acquisition a lucrative proposition.

Neo Prime was launched in US in 2010 through a carriage deal with Comcast. Back then Neo had a strong driver property in BCCI to get distributed on US cable networks. However, the loss of BCCI rights made Neo vulnerable.

The broadcaster had tried to compensate the loss of BCCI rights by acquiring US telecast rights for the Indian Premier League (IPL) last year.

Nimbus Sport, a sister concern of Neo Sports, distributes IPL internationally excluding some key territories like England, Australia and South Africa.

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