DSport replaces Star as I-League broadcaster in three-year deal

Image: AIFF

Indian pay-television broadcaster DSport has agreed a three-season deal to become the new domestic rights partner of club football competition the I-League.

The exclusive broadcast and digital rights agreement, which spans the 2019-20 to 2021-22 period, has been agreed between the All India Football Federation and Lex Sportel Vision.

Separately, the AIFF has awarded Ireland-based Instat a contract spanning the same three-season window to produce a feed of the live coverage for broadcast on the Discovery-owned DSport. Instat will produce all 110 I-League games per season with an eight-camera setup.

For the past two seasons, the I-League has been broadcast by DSport’s rival pay-television broadcaster Star. The AIFF said it and Football Sports Development Limited negotiated the new deal at the request of the I-League clubs. FSDL will also contribute partly to the cost of production.

In January, the AIFF and Star announced that I-League matches not shown on linear television would be livestreamed on Star’s Hotstar and JioTV platforms. I-League club owners were reportedly upset at Star’s plans to broadcast only 30 of the league’s remaining fixtures live on its pay-television channels.

The I-League is set to be replaced by the Indian Super League as the country’s top-tier competition, when its 2019-20 season commences on November 30. The Asian Football Confederation last month rubber-stamped the roadmap for Indian football that makes the ISL the country’s top-tier club competition.

The roadmap for the reform process is for the club game in the country, with the ISL being recognised as the top league in India starting from the current 2019-20 season.