Leg Before Wicket

Creating a truly global sports proposition is incredibly tough.

There are only a handful, and none of the US majors qualify since they are all, fundamentally, parochial. Let's try and list them:

Soccer/football, esp the Premiership in the UK and the Champions League, along with the World Cup
The Olympics
Tennis Masters
The odd boxing bout

And then you run into a wall.

There are some very interesting franchises - snooker is big in the UK and the Far East, but not really anywhere else; rugby has a diverse, but limited following; volleyball is big in the Mediterranean countries and extreme sports have their niche.

Cricket is a parochial anachronism. Played largely in former British colonies, like most sports, it is an acquired obsession. I remember taking an American flatmate to watch Kent play. At the end of the second day he asked 'who won ?' and then begged me not to bring him back for the following three days to find the answer.

So, the success of the Indian Premier League cricket, featuring the very recently developed 20 over version of that game is quite an achievement in such a short period of time, and is also a taste of what is to come from India, China and the Middle East as they begin to invest in and develop global sports properties with almost limitless funds.

What is disappointing is that they are working like any major sports franchise, and the internet is nowhere near central to their TV strategy. US sports may be unpopular elsewhere in the world, but there's lots that sports organisations around the world could learn from looking at the likes of the MLB.


Anonymous said…
A couple of comments about this article:
1. With global migration, sports coverage of even niche sports becomes truly global. Usually because TV coverage in a local market doesn't show the sport. E.g. Rugby is tiny in the USA, so its not shown on US TV, and therefore the Broadband sales of Rugby in the US are higher than elsewhere, usually to ex-pats.
2. Re: your comment about IPL. When TV contracts are being sold for hunderds of millions of dollars, then of course broadband will not be central to their strategy. This will rapidly change of course.