Archive for April, 2010|Monthly archive page

Young, Media Savvy and In Love With Cricket

In Uncategorized on April 1, 2010 at 2:07 pm

Rewind for a moment to the Saturday of the 1st Test between England and Bangladesh, 13 March, 2010.

I had to catch an early train, and caught up with the test score at 6am via my mobile phone on the overland section of the Hammersmith & City line. Despite the early hour, and the less than electrifying cricket as England progressed sedately to a declaration, BBC Sport’s Over-by-Over website was humming. Cricket fans from all over the planet were pinging in their thoughts.  You know the kind of thing: “What a welcome return for KP yesterday! Let’s hope for a double century for Captain Cook and a 600+ score?”

A couple of things struck me about the user generated content on the OBO report, enough to make me copy off all the text content from that session. This is a complete, un-edited list of where all the emails and text messages came from, in order:

Abu Dhabi, Somerset, Victoria (Australia?), north London, Wrexham, New York, England (“My family are from Bangladesh – I am an avid England cricket fan”), east London, Kuala Lumpur, Al Ain, Sussex, Bournemouth, somewhere near the Vietnam-Laos border, Spain, Niigata, Japan, and the Gulf of Mexico.

Planet Cricket

Pretty remarkable, no? Gotta love that ‘somewhere near the Vietnam-Laos border’. The mind boggles. Obviously, the audience is influenced by the time zone, but it’s still an extraordinary global spread which demonstrates how cricket fans – English and Bangladeshi -get about.

But there’s something else interesting about this vibrant virtual community. Take a look at a few of these comments:

“Having spent the last six hours writing a very boring essay (and going nowhere it seems!) I thought I’d take a break and send you guys an email!”

“Can’t believe I’m up at 5, to watch Ian Bell in Bangladesh. Am I that sad or just a cricket fan to the max?”

“I’m sure I’ve got this the wrong way round, I should be getting up for the cricket and not settling down for it as I’m getting home.”

Notice anything? About the tone, as well as the content? Obviously, the ‘writing a very boring essay’ is a bit of a giveaway. They just sound so young. They’re fresh, new media savvy, international, mobile, communicative, peppy and in love with cricket. Those who are striving to promote cricket in the UK should be kicking the door down to reach that market. Not one of these contributors act or sound like the English cricket county members who appear to be the ECB’s target market: they’re still waiting for the Sunday Telegraph to tell them score from Chittagong. Yes, I know that the governing body puts a lot into grass roots development as part of the Sky deal, and they sincerely would like to think that they’re building a new and youthful future for cricket in the UK. But by restricting its entire TV output to a costly satellite-based subscription service, and then diverting the lion’s share of that income to the counties – to satisfy over-aged county executives and an OAP membership – they are not doing young cricket fans any favours. In the meantime, this new cricket audience is pinging the BBC OBO and watching the IPL for free on YouTube.