Cricket is a massive sport. There are a lot of gaming companies and fans whose livelihood depends on it. That is why there seems to be a growing trend of streaming games online especially at a time when sports like Cricket has been suspended to mitigate the challenge of Covid-19 pandemic.
Over the last three months there has been huge growth in options to stream live cricket online. There are a few Pacific and Caribbean islands that have been unaffected by COVID-19 and are also cricket playing nations. This has prompted companies like Dream11 to hold small cricket tournaments so that it can offer cricket-based fantasy contests to its customers.
It is easy to see Dream11's interest in conducting these tournaments. They make money only when their customers spend money and that happens most when Cricket is on.
Betway is taking a bit of a lateral approach to Dream11. Since Betway is a traditional online betting site that counts India as one of its biggest potential markets, cricket has become very important to it. Betway has embraced the growth of e-sports and tried to offer cricket fans something to stream as well.
Virtual cricket matches between fans are available to stream and to even bet on. Of course, virtual cricket is not quite live cricket online but it is something better than nothing, and fans seem to be lining up for it.
The popularity of these virtual matches has been much more than what Betway expected even at this stage of inception.
There are also many professional bettors whose primary sport is cricket. The availability of matches online from around the world is a big boon to them and that is only going to grow as ‘fantasy sports' (a thin veil over betting) become more popular in India.
We don't think this trend of streaming matches online is going to slow down any time. The IPL was one of the leaders in this area as it was streamed on YouTube much before any other major tournament or even sport had tried it.
Hotstar, the streaming arm of Disney in India which holds the right to stream live cricket in India, is fast becoming one of the primary ways to watch cricket in India. There are a lot of people that simply have a Hotstar subscription for all their content needs.
As COVID-19 forces people to stay indoors for the foreseeable future, more and more matches are going to be streamed online. The smaller tournaments are just not lucrative enough for TV networks to get behind but there is still enough fan interest to have them streamed online only.
The big TV networks are building up massive streaming capabilities as they recognize this shift in consumer behavior is here to stay. Live sports with a focus on cricket for any streaming service in the subcontinent has the potential to be a game-changer.