In the world of sports, few events have shown the transformative power of technology as strikingly as the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2023. The tournament sets new standards in digital viewership, reflecting a seismic shift in how cricket is consumed globally.
The semifinal match between India and New Zealand reached a peak concurrency of 53 million viewers on Disney+ Hotstar, an unprecedented figure for digital cricket viewership. This record-breaking number surpassed the previous high of 44 million during the India vs. South Africa match. Even earlier in the tournament, the India vs. The New Zealand round-robin match drew an impressive 43 million concurrent viewers, signaling a rising trend in digital viewership.
The overall reach of the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup was equally staggering. The first 34 matches garnered an audience of 450 million. This marked a 10% increase in consumption compared to the 2019 edition, totalling a colossal 244 billion minutes of viewing. This surge not only underscores cricket's enduring popularity in the sub-continent but also highlights the growing effectiveness of digital platforms in capturing a global audience.
Beyond entertainment, the tournament's digital success is poised to make a substantial economic impact. It is projected to inject between Rs 13,000-20,000 crore into the Indian economy, signalling the significant financial implications of digital sports broadcasting.
At the heart of this digital revolution in cricket is the integration of advanced technology including artificial intelligence, data analytics, AR/VR and cloud. Scalable cloud technology, in particular, has been pivotal. Platforms like Disney+ Hotstar have leveraged this scalability of cloud to manage the sheer volume of concurrent viewers efficiently, ensuring a seamless and uninterrupted streaming experience.
Impact of Next-Gen Technologies on Cricket
Cricket, like many other sports, is experiencing a digital transformation, significantly enhancing the experience for everyone involved – players, viewers, umpires, commentators, and coaches.
This evolution is especially evident in the ongoing ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2023 in India, where technological innovations are enriching the viewing experience through detailed analytics and engaging digital content accessible across various devices like televisions, laptops, tablets, and mobile phones.
The World Cup 2023 showcases a range of technological deployments. The ICC has enhanced the viewing experience with virtual reality shot trackers, real-time fielding positions, and ball trajectories.
Furthermore, they have launched the first-of-its-kind vertical feed coverage, providing personalised match highlights accessible via the ICC app, website, and ICC Meta channels. Additionally, partnerships with over 500 content creators across India have led to a surge in engaging content on Instagram Reels.
Over the years, technology in cricket has evolved to include advanced systems like the Decision Review System (DRS), which uses ball-tracking, Snickometer, and Hawkeye for accurate decision-making.
Analytics are optimally used for performance analysis, providing insights into batting techniques, bowling actions, and fielding prowess. Such data-driven analyses allow teams to develop tailored strategies and training programs, significantly enhancing player performance.
Investment in Technology by ICC and Cricket Boards
The ICC and various cricket boards have made substantial investments in technology. Notably, the Cricket World Cup 2023 features the in-situ pitch changing technology, which can hold and change up to six different cricket pitches, minimiSing the toss factor and reducing home advantage.
Additionally, advanced ticketing systems, access control mechanisms, and crowd management tools have been implemented to ensure smooth venue operations and enhanced security.
For the 2023 ICC Men's Cricket World Cup, the ICC teamed up with Mphasis as its Digital Consulting Partner. Utilising cloud and cognitive services, the ICC has tried to improve digital experiences for cricket enthusiasts globally. Central to the ICC's digital strategy are its website and app, which now incorporate technologies like VR and web3 to engage new audiences.
ICC's Head of Digital, Finn Bradshaw, said: “…our focus is on the fans and enhancing their digital experience throughout this World Cup.”
Key Challenges for Cricket Technology
Despite these advancements, challenges remain. One key area is balancing the role of technology with the human element of the game, particularly in umpiring decisions.
Ensuring that technology aids but does not overshadow human judgment is crucial. Moreover, there's a need for more inclusive access to these technological benefits, ensuring that they reach a wider audience across different regions and economic backgrounds.
Future of Cricket Technology and Impact on Revenue
Learning from other sports, cricket could further adopt IoT and AI for enhanced viewing experiences. Balancing technology with the human element, particularly in umpiring, and ensuring inclusive access to these technologies remains a challenge.
Looking ahead, the integration of AR, VR, and data analytics promises a more immersive cricket experience and new revenue opportunities. The 2023 World Cup exemplifies how technology is not just elevating current cricket experiences but also shaping its future.
As the ICC World Cup 2023 demonstrates, technology is not only enhancing the current state of cricket but also setting the stage for a future where cricket's rich tradition meets cutting-edge technology.