Cricket broadcasting immortalizes the game and its stars. Combating to win the shortest format of the game in stadiums as battlegrounds with players as superheroes.According to the ICC as well, India constitutes around 90 percent of over one billion fans of this sport. As a result, the India-Pakistan encounter at the recently held ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in Dubai is now officially the most viewed T20I match in history.
From 4 cameras in the 80s, production has progressed to almost 40 capturing today. There are cameras all around the boundary line. Not only broadcasting to television screens, but also streaming through the internet to millions of desktops, laptops, tablets, and mobile phones.
The International Cricket Council shared its global viewership figures (click website) for the tournament. Here are some other key findings:
- A staggering 167 million Viewers. 10,000 hours of live coverage on TV+Digital covering over 200+ countries with increased consumption in India, Pakistan, Australia, UK, and the USA.
- In India, children below the age of 15 command a share of 18.5%
- Overall viewership shares also grew in Australia (175%), Pakistan (7.3%), the UK (7%)
- In the USA, the tournament is most viewed in ESPN’s cricket history
- ICC’s partnership with Facebook resulted in 4.3 billion views compared to 3.6 billion in the 2019 world cup.
Broadcasting works on eyeballs. Hence, the largest revenue generator for major cricket organizers around the world.
Star Sports has a long standing relationship with ICC. The sports broadcasting network owned by 21st Century Fox through its subsidiaries STAR TV and Fox International Channels oversees the syndication and distribution of ICC events to a global audience and Broadcast Partners. Star’s distribution efforts ensure that ICC events are available via live coverage to more than 1.5 billion people.
Have a look as follows:
Social Media + OTT platforms
Cricket fans also moved up the value chain, from being consumers to storytellers.
There is a real shift in the market in terms of the interest and types of companies that are interested in earning the rights. You are seeing a bit of a shift from traditional broadcasters to the large digital companies as well.
Facebook now Meta being a prime example. The ground-breaking partnership, allows Facebook to show a wide range of content on its Watch platform, including match recaps and in-play key moments, although not the live-streaming of matches. Serving the fans with content that generates new conversations and connections. A record breaking growth in digital consumption witnessed aptly at the 2019 Mens World Cup.
Moreover, with cricketers becoming celebrities, their life off the field also became an integral part of storytelling by fans. Fans from both sides compete with their own stories and analysis, flooding social media with hashtags.
Today, the story of a moment does not end with the broadcaster’s point of view, as it organically passes through thousands of analyses from fans across multiple social platforms. Fans also transform as experts for viewers in live OTT platforms and social media platforms.
In 2020, 405 million people — roughly the population of Europe — watched the IPL on television, according to BARC data. Previously, Hotstar, India’s Disney-owned streaming service, has set a global record for the number of viewers tuning into a live event. Hence, record was set for a cricket match. Around 18.6 million viewers logged in to the Hotstar website and app to watch the decider of the 12th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket tournament.
Furthermore, click this a good read on the trends with viewer engagement and shopping.
Fans and Tech
The technology focus for cricket in the 21st century has shifted towards enhancing the fan experience and engagement. Making the game more credible, connected, and enjoyable for the audience. Some notables include:
- Newer technologies like ball tracking and bat swing analysis enable viewers to examine a cricket shot. Technology like a stump camera with a mic helps to capture the moments on the pitch.
- Realtime Snicko (from BBG Sports) or UltraEdge (from Hawk-Eye innovations) works on the principle of sound frequencies to detect whether the ball touched the bat before being caught by the fielding team
- Hotspot uses 2 infrared cameras placed on opposite sides of the ground, with a clear view of the batsman. When the ball hits any equipment of the batsman, Analysis of the infrared image helps the umpires makes a verdict
- DRS enhances umpiring outcomes and the fans get to don the hat of an umpire.
- Camera angles through Spider-cams and Buggy cams facilitate constant tracking of players and ball movements. While drone cameras capture near ground level shots to skyline. A birds eye view of the game.
A highly recommendable read Technologies in Cricket for 21st Century Fans by Spektacom
Data and video analytics provide plenty of story angles for analysis by the commentators and fans – zones of strength and weakness, player battles, etc., engage the fan well beyond the actual game. Computer graphics, replays, and slow-Mo camera feeds allow the viewers to engrave the moment in memory.
To engage viewers, you need to have a highly engaging story format. The story of how players overcame the odds, matchups, etc. Because a story of resilience, and sometimes also friendships sells. Therefore forming the crux of broadcasting narration in a socially connecting digital world today.
Personally for me, the story of the most-watched India Pakistan match began right after the battle was over. When Virat Kohli hugged Rizwan and Pakistani players had a fan moment with Dhoni.