With just a few days remaining before the start of the ICC Cricket ODI World Cup 2023, the International Cricket Council (ICC) has unveiled the official schedule for the biggest cricket tournament, set to take place in India.
Star Sports has secured the exclusive broadcast and digital rights for the event, following their acquisition of the rights for all ICC events from 2015 to 2023. This deal includes the rights to live coverage and highlights across various platforms for major ICC tournaments such as the ICC Cricket World Cup, ICC Women’s World Cup, ICC World Twenty20, ICC Champions Trophy, and ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup.
Star Sports secured these exclusive rights by making a substantial investment of $2.02 billion for the eight-year period from 2015 to 2023. In a bid to reach a wider audience, Disney+ Hotstar announced that it would offer free access to the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 for all mobile phone users accessing their platform. This strategic move aims to provide free-to-view coverage to approximately 540 million smartphone users in India, thereby democratizing access to cricket and expanding its popularity.
This decision by Disney+ Hotstar follows the success of JioCinema, a rival streaming platform, which attracted millions of viewers by offering a similar free-to-view strategy for this year’s IPL matches. Disney+ Hotstar had previously provided free cricket content but transitioned to a subscription-based model in 2020.
Disney+ Hotstar’s statement regarding the removal of paywalls for mobile-only viewers emphasized their commitment to democratizing the game of cricket and ensuring its accessibility to as many mobile users in India as possible throughout the tournament season.
The highly-anticipated tournament will kick off with a clash between defending champions England and New Zealand at the renowned Narendra Modi Stadium, the largest cricket stadium in the world, located in Ahmedabad. This iconic venue will also host the final match. India, the host nation, will commence their campaign against Australia on October 8, while the much-awaited encounter between arch-rivals India and Pakistan is scheduled to take place in Ahmedabad on October 15.
Matches between India and Pakistan have historically garnered immense viewership and are considered major highlights on the global sporting calendar. According to the ICC, the most-watched match of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019 was the India–Pakistan clash, attracting 273 million unique viewers for linear TV coverage and an additional 50 million digital-only viewers.
Apart from the host nation India, seven other teams have already secured their spots in the tournament through the World Cup Super League. The final two berths will be decided at the conclusion of the ongoing qualifying tournament in Zimbabwe.
The ICC ODI World Cup 2023 will span 46 days and be played at 10 venues across India. The format includes a round-robin stage featuring 10 teams, with the top four progressing to the semi-finals, leading to an exhilarating finale as the world’s best compete for cricketing glory.