MUMBAI: Times Internet, the digital arm of The Times of India Group, has acquired Willow TV International. Expanding the ICC tournament’s reach beyond the traditional and expensive pay-per-view distribution method, Willow will provide an exclusive live US television broadcast and live stream of the ICC World Twenty20.
This will be the first time an ICC tournament will be available on a US television broadcast channel.Willow TV is one of the leading cricket broadcasters in the US.
Willow is the only channel that is dedicated to cricket in the US, with an aligned direct-to-consumer digital service.
Times Internet director Satyan Gajwani says, “We are extremely pleased to welcome Willow to The Times Group. Cricket is one of the most popular sports in the world, and has the potential to become a major sport in the US. We are excited to expand and strengthen our offerings for South Asians living in the US and to grow interest in cricket across the US, both with loyal fans and new consumers”.
The channel and its associated TV Everywhere service is widely distributed by the largest satellite, cable, IPTV and OTT platforms in a variety of subscription packages, including sports packs and South Asian targeted packages.
On the other hand, Cricbuzz will exclusively deliver pre-match, in-match, and post-match highlights and coverage of the entire tournament to its US based digital audiences.
“As a bootstrapped company, we launched the Willow cricket channel just over 5 years ago, and we are extremely proud of where it has reached. With the backing of The Times of India Group and its assets, I am confident that we can jointly build one of the premier sports businesses in the US”, adds Willow TV founder and CEO Vijay Srinivasan.
For Times Internet, Willow is complementary with its recent acquisition of Cricbuzz, the world’s largest online cricket destination. During the ICC World Cup 2015, Cricbuzz claims to have 1 billion visits in a span of 40 days with 96 percent available on mobile.
Between Willow, Cricbuzz, and Times of India’s digital assets, the group estimates to reach about 15 million Americans with an interest in cricket. Willow is the first international acquisition by Times Internet, and the first US acquisition for The Times of India Group.
The channel is available on 7 of the top 10 pay television platforms in the US, and also plans many more launches currently in the pipeline.