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Facebook loses bid to stream Indian cricket tournament

The social network's $610 million offer to grab more sports streaming in a key market hits a sticky wicket.

Facebook swung but missed in bid for IPL streaming rights. 
Sajjad Hussain/AFP/Getty Images

Facebook demonstrated its big ambitions for sports streaming, even as it failed to land a deal for a high-profile cricket tournament. 

The social network took a swing at a five-year, $610 million deal for local streaming rights to the Indian Premier League, NDTV reported. Facebook's hopes were dashed, however, by 21st Century Fox's Star India unit, which bid $2.55 billion for both digital and TV rights worldwide.  

Facebook's attempt to win the annual tournament, one of India's most popular sporting events, underscores the social network's efforts to position itself as a destination for videos, particularly live streaming. Earlier this year, Facebook Live streamed the NBA  All-Star game events. The social network also struck deals to stream more than 20 Major League soccer games and 20 Major League Baseball games. In India, Facebook's biggest market by users, the NBA streamed a game between the Golden State Warriors and the Sacramento Kings. 

IPL would be a big a draw for Indian Facebook users and those considering joining the social network. The first three matches alone of this year's season drew 185.7 million viewers, roughly 15 percent more than last year. 

Facebook didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Amazon, Twitter and Yahoo also considered bidding for the IPL rights, but ultimately dropped out, according to NDTV. Sony Pictures, which held the rights in earlier seasons, bid nearly $1.6 billion for TV rights.

Star India said in a statement to CNET that it will stream IPL matches on its Hotstar streaming service, which rivals the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime Video in the country. 

First published Sept. 5, 2:55 a.m. PT.
Updated at 10:15 p.m.: Added that IPL matches will be streamed on Hotstar.  

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