The most likely platform to be used for the England tour to India would be Hotstar, which can be downloaded to PCs, tablet and mobile via an app and costs £5.99 ($10.50) a month.
From February 23, Hotstar content will be available in Europe via the Disney+ platform, a streaming service such as Amazon Prime and Netflix, but that will be halfway through the England series.
England will play four Tests in India, starting in Chennai on February 5, as well as five Twenty20s and three one-day internationals. The third Test in Ahmedabad will be a day-night match and the time difference works well for broadcasters in England.
Amazon has an appetite for one-off big events rather than long-term deals as Sky has with the England and Wales Cricket Board. The Ashes in Australia fits into Amazon’s model, and it has the purchasing power to outbid all rivals.
Cricket Australia signed a five-year deal with BT Sport in 2015 that expires after the current Australian season, leaving the rights to the next Ashes up for grabs.
The Telegraph revealed last month that Amazon was interested in the Ashes, and it is understood talks have reached an advanced stage, although Sky remains a strong rival given it would be interested in showing the Big Bash as well as all other Australian Test series.
Losing the India tour and the Ashes would be a blow for Sky, given the need for England live content to fill schedules on its dedicated cricket channel, but the broadcasting landscape in sport is changing quickly. Streaming services such as Disney and Amazon have huge budgets to challenge the established sports broadcasters.
Sky has had a virtual monopoly over England’s tours since 1990.
The last Ashes series on BT Sport was the first England tour for decades to have not been shown live on Sky, which has had a difficult relationship with the Indian board and has not shown any of its cricket for the past two years.
Amazon recently signed a deal with Cricket New Zealand for exclusive access to its India rights.
Cricket is seen as the ideal vehicle for breaking into the Indian market and capitalising on its digital boom. “We focus on picking sports events that transcend the day-to-day and have broad appeal as well as appeal to hard-core fans. It is a moment to view,” Alex Green, the managing director of sport for Amazon Prime, recently told the BBC’s Media Show.
The pandemic has crippled other areas of the Disney business, but its streaming service is booming.
Christine McCarthy, the Disney chief financial officer, recently said it expected to have up to 350 million global subscribers by the end of 2024 and linking its sports content on Star with its digital service is inevitable.
The Telegraph, London