There is a hardly a soul that does not understand or watch Cricket in India. For years, BCCI, the official Cricket control body of India has sold television broadcast rights for hundreds of millions of dollars.
The credit of taking online Cricket streaming to the mainstream population belongs to YouTube. In 2010, they got exclusive online streaming rights for the Indian Premier League (IPL). Even though the game was telecast with a five minute delay, people swarmed to watch the feed, including myself. That should have been a very positive experience altogether, because this year it is powering the feed of Indiatimes, the official online broadcast partner.
Statistics released by Indiatimes earlier this week indicate a 62% upswing in viewership in comparison with the previous year. That’s quite a record taking into account that we watched about two consecutive months of Cricket, thanks to the ICC Worldcup that concluded just a few weeks ago.
In the first week of IPL 3 last year, YouTube recorded over 5.5 million channel views. This year, the combined channel views of Indiatimes and YouTube (both powered by YouTube) for the same period stands at 8.9 million. This is not an isolated phenomenon. During the Cricket Worldcup, there were about 10.7 million streams from India alone.
One thing that works wonders for YouTube is the quality of its video feed. While still not available in TV quality, its video clarity is way better than the one ESPN Star transmitted during the Worldcup.
I can see two sections of people benefiting immensely from online streaming of matches. First, people like me, who don’t want to pay for all the crappy channels that come bundled with a cable connection.
Businesses would be the second benefactor. Compared to the rates TV channels command for advertising spots during live gameplay, online ad spots should be dirt cheap. As an added perk, brands can be sure that advertising in the online stream means better targeting of the young crowd with a lot of disposable income.