Investment of $1 billion into American Cricket in Partnership with Willow TV and Times of India Group Principals
USA Cricket has completed its RFP process for the development of a world-class professional T20 cricket league in the United States and has selected American Cricket Enterprises (ACE) as its strategic partner. This historic milestone furthers USA Cricket’s vision to bring professional cricket to the world’s largest sports market, concluding a multi-stage evaluation process that began in November 2018 with a public invitation for proposals for building a U.S.-based T20 professional league. USA Cricket’s long-term agreement with ACE marks the most ambitious and transformational venture ever undertaken in the American cricket landscape that will result in over $1 billion invested into the development of cricket domestically.
ACE is backed by Sameer Mehta and Vijay Srinivasan, the founders of Willow TV, the largest cricket broadcaster in North America, and Satyan Gajwani and Vineet Jain, the principals of The Times of India Group, India’s largest media conglomerate. At the end of the RFP process, USA Cricket chose ACE, whose proposal combined a large financial commitment to invest into the league, key deals for infrastructure and broadcast distribution, experienced and knowledgeable leadership, and a data-driven, analytical business strategy that affirmed ACE’s ability to build a longstanding institution that will elevate U.S. cricket to the highest international levels.
“USA Cricket is excited to partner with ACE to launch a professional cricket league in the United States and I thank the board for their hard work and thoughtful deliberation throughout this process,” said Paraag Marathe, USA Cricket Board Chairman. “Vijay, Sameer, Satyan and Vineet provided a comprehensive vision for the growth of cricket in the U.S. on all levels, and we’re confident they will create a world class T20 league here in America. This is a watershed moment for cricket in the United States and we look forward to a long-lasting, successful partnership.”
The launch of the new professional league will be slated for 2021 and ACE has commenced major infrastructure investment towards international grade cricket venues in several U.S. metropolitan markets. ACE is also working to develop additional turf cricket pitches and auxiliary facilities in more than a dozen locations. Based on a major / minor professional league model, the new facilities will provide, for the first time ever in the U.S., the ability to stage and support major domestic and international cricket at all levels. In addition, ACE will provide support for USA Cricket’s men’s and women’s national teams to ensure they can capitalize on their recent successes at the ICC World Cricket League Division 2 and the ICC Women’s Americas Qualifier, respectively.
Focused on staging the highest quality T20 cricket for U.S. cricket fans, the league will feature top international players from the U.S. and around the world, combined with a focus on pathways to develop a homegrown player pool for USA Cricket and the league. A major component of ACE’s plans are the developmental academies around the country that will be aligned to the league teams and will help foster and develop talent at the youth levels to ensure a strong pipeline of cricket players of the highest caliber.
“Cricket has the second largest audience in the world, and yet has little presence in the largest professional sports market,” said Satyan Gajwani of The Times of India Group. “We want to develop a lasting institution that brings to the U.S. the excitement and passion of cricket, enjoyed by billions of people globally. True grassroots development of any sport takes decades and we are excited and committed to play a role in developing world-class cricket in America.”
“After a successful run in establishing the U.S. as a major broadcast market for international cricket, we are now excited to partner with USA Cricket to take American cricket to the highest levels through the new T20 league,” said Sameer Mehta and Vijay Srinivasan of Willow.
A key highlight of ACE’s proposal is distribution, sponsorship and exposure for the professional league and for USA Cricket’s national teams via major TV and digital broadcast platforms, led by Willow TV which has over 4 million subscribers and is the main U.S. broadcaster for major international cricket including: the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) championships and matches from the Indian Premier League, Cricket Australia, the England Cricket Board, Cricket South Africa, Cricket West Indies, the Pakistan Super League, the Pakistan Cricket Board and Sri Lanka Cricket. In addition to the Willow assets, ACE and USA Cricket will seek out “free to air” platforms as well to ensure mainstream audiences are exposed to the league.
The Times of India Group is India’s largest diversified media company. Started in 1838, the Times Group expanded from its flagship newspaper, The Times of India Group, the largest English newspaper in the world, into operating leading media assets across print, internet, TV, radio, film, music, events, education, and more. ACE’s proposal includes planning for media, marketing, reach and distribution across Times Group’s entire range of assets.
Overall, ACE’s plans are anchored by strong financial support from a diverse investor group, who are unified around a passion for cricket, and a track record of success across a wide spectrum of industries: media, technology, finance, supply chain, logistics and professional sports.
Following the completion of the International Cricket Council’s Cricket World Cup—set for May 30 to July 14 in England and Wales—USA Cricket and ACE will announce additional details regarding the new league, including plans for a launch event.