MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., March 3, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Times Internet, India's largest digital network and part of The Times of India Group, today announced that it has reached a definitive agreement to acquire Willow TV International, the leading cricket broadcaster in the US. This is the first international acquisition by Times Internet, and the first US acquisition for The Times of India Group, India's largest media company.
Cricket is the second most popular sport in the world behind soccer, and has a passionate fan base in the US that is growing steadily. Cricket's popularity has skyrocketed with the addition of the new Twenty20 format, a much shorter and livelier form of cricket with the games taking a few hours instead of days.
Willow is one of the fastest growing sports networks in the US, and the only channel that is dedicated solely to cricket in this country. Named after the English willow tree from which cricket bats are made, Willow features the world's most popular cricket matches and events. The channel and its "TV Everywhere" service is widely distributed by the largest satellite, cable, IPTV, and OTT platforms in a variety of subscription packages. Willow is available on 7 of the top 10 pay television platforms in the US, with more new launches in the pipeline.
Times Internet is India's largest diversified digital group, with media and technology assets across news, music, sports -- reaching 150 million users each month. Willow is complementary to Times Internet's recent acquisition of Cricbuzz, the world's largest online cricket destination. During the 2015 ICC World Cup, Cricbuzz saw more than 1 billion visits in a span of 40 days, 96% on mobile. Between Willow, Cricbuzz, and Times of India's digital assets, the Group estimates reaching approximately 15 million Americans with an interest in cricket.
The timing of the deal is also significant, as Willow will exclusively live broadcast and stream the ICC World Twenty20 tournament to US audiences when the matches kick off on March 8. This is the first time an ICC tournament will be available on a US television broadcast channel, expanding its reach beyond the traditional and expensive pay-per-view distribution method. In parallel, Cricbuzz will exclusively deliver pre-match, in-match, and post-match highlights and coverage of the entire tournament to US digital audiences.
"We're extremely pleased to welcome Willow to The Times Group," said Satyan Gajwani, Director of Times Internet. "Cricket is one of the most popular sports in the world, and has the potential to become a major sport in the US. We're 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."
"We launched the Willow cricket channel just over five years ago, and we're very proud of where it has reached," said Vijay Srinivasan, founder and CEO of Willow TV International. "With the backing of The Times of India Group and its assets, I'm confident that we can jointly build one of the premier sports businesses in the US."
About Times Internet
Times Internet is the digital arm of The Times of India Group, India's largest diversified media company. Times Internet operates over 30 standalone digital business units, across news, sports, music, video, local, classifieds, commerce, personal finance, and more. Across these businesses, Times Internet reaches over 150 million monthly visitors, making it India's widest reaching digital business.
Willow TV International, Inc. is the premier broadcaster of cricket in the US Willow distributes a high definition linear television channel dedicated exclusively to cricket in the US, and provides television and digital production services to its global partners. Willow is an Official Broadcast Partner of the International Cricket Council (ICC) and several major international cricket boards and leagues.
SOURCE Willow TV