The recently concluded inaugural Major League Cricket tournament – won by MI New York – attracted some high-profile international players, while significant investment by the organisers indicates the tournament will surely get bigger in the future and offer intriguing marketing opportunities for brands.
Cricket is gradually making its way onto the US radar: some of next year’s T20 World Cup will be played in the US and the game could also be included in the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
So it’s timely that a group of investors, mostly of South Asian heritage, have poured $1bn into American Cricket Enterprises with the aim of replicating the success of the India Premier League (IPL) in the US. Several of the six teams that took part in the first tournament even take their names from existing IPL teams, eg the Texas Super Kings.
The move also comes at a time when US interest in baseball is not what it used to be – fewer young people play and TV audiences are declining. Some observers think a successful cricket T20 format could force baseball to reinvent itself.
Why MLC matters
- Cricket is the world’s second most popular sport, with some 2.5 billion fans around the world, while the US is the world’s largest sports market.
- “Major League Cricket can easily be the number two league in the world [behind IPL],” says Vijay Srinivasan, the man who launched Willow TV, America’s first dedicated cricket broadcaster. If that really is the case, then brands may be fighting to be associated with it in a similar way to the Super Bowl.
- But even if the format doesn’t achieve that wider success, there’s still plenty to interest brands: the “existing fan base is wealthy, successful and passionate about the sport”, Srinivasan told the Financial Times.
- There are around 6 million US cricket fans so there is plenty of room to grow the audience.
- Because the MLC only lasts a couple of weeks, it’s easier for teams to attract major stars – that makes it a more attractive proposition for fans who are able to see players in their prime, not when they’re easing towards retirement.
At some point American Cricket Enterprises will need to attract “cricket curious” Americans away from other sports and to sell media rights to extend cricket’s reach as far as possible,
Sourced from Financial Times, Ad Age
[Image: Major League Cricket]
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