InCrowd’s Ben Manning reflects on the success of this year’s biggest cricket tournaments in welcoming new fans and driving engagement across the sport.
The recent T20 World Cup concluded with two main similarities to the 50-over equivalent: an England victory helmed by Ben Stokes; and on free-to-air TV in the UK.
Sky and Channel 4 struck another deal to make the game available to those without a Sky Sports package, and the game in England as a whole benefited with 3.19m fans having tuned in at some point during proceedings.
Such moves are not alien to Channel 4: not only was the 2019 Final made available to the masses, so was Emma Raducanu’s US Open victory in September 2021.
In the lead up to the game, England’s captain Jos Buttler went on record as saying that he wanted as many eyes on the game as possible, and that it’s “important that we always look for ways to grow [the] game and showcase cricket to the next generation.” By placing the game (on a Sunday morning, no less!) front and centre, that particular box was surely ticked.
Where do we go from here? Anecdotally, there was a boom of participants in the ECB’s Dynamos & All Star cricket programmes. Numerous clubs brought in activators and participation levels grew as youngsters took up the game, so the victory over Pakistan is only likely to swell these numbers further.
With the team playing an exciting brand of cricketit will have captured the imagination of youngsters looking to emulate their heroes, not least Ben Stokes.
Domestically, The Hundred attracted over half a million attendees in its second iteration, of which an impressive 41% were families and saw huge interaction with The Hundred App, developed by InCrowd, including nearly 160K new downloads and over 100K votes cast on interactive polls alongside other key engagement features. This reaffirms the commitment that the ECB are attempting to encourage a new cohort of fans to enjoy the game. Indeed, it’s been announced that alongside the bumper Finals Day that rounds off the T20 Blast tournament, Edgbaston will host a curtain-raising Blast Off double-header where Birmingham Bears will take on Yorkshire Vikings, and Derbyshire Falcons face Lancashire Lightning.
With the sport continuing to go from strength to strength, as Cricket Boards continue to develop the game with creative ideas, the game is being kept relevant and capturing the imaginations of young fans.