Global Cricket Ventures Ltd (GCV) has acquired the US-based Willow TV Inc. which runs the portal (www.willow.tv) for live internet streaming of cricket matches from across the world. GCV, which recently raised $10 million from AIM-listed fund Elephant Capital for a 50% stake, has bought out the total share capital of the California-based company.
Willow TV is the primary rights owner and online broadcaster of cricket in North America, with television and online live streaming rights for tournaments like the IPL, Champions League Twenty20, and ICC events.
The size of the deal was not disclosed. Interestingly, Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group firm Reliance Entertainment had agreed to pay $60-70 million for a 75% stake in September 2008. But this deal did not go through for differences over valuations, as per a recent report.
Willow TV's co-founders Dr. Vijay Srinivasan and Sameer Mehta are expected to stay with the company. The company was founded in 2002 and is named after the tree which is traditionally used to make cricket bats.
GCV owns the exclusive licenses for digital and mobile rights to the Indian Premier League (IPL) and the key digital rights to Champions League Twenty20 until 2017. The firm, which is also planning to raise another $5 million, is a joint venture between Canada's Live Current Media and UAE's NetlinkBlue Holding. GCV also recently entered into a partnership with Google India, where the latter will monetise sponsorship and advertising for the official IPL website on behalf of GCV. Google will also be able to stream IPL matches on a dedicated channel on YouTube, its subsidiary.
"It is inevitable that consumers of all forms of sports and entertainment will take advantage of the huge leap in technology and watch their preferred programming precisely when, where and if they want to, rather than be tethered to the events time or the broadcasters schedule," said Gaurav Burman, managing partner at Elephant Capital and scion of the Dabur family. His elder brother Mohit Burman, who is also a director at Elephant Capital, owns a stake in IPL team Kings 11 Punjab.