Cricket

'Women's Cricket Is The Fastest Growing Sport In The World', Claims Marc Hayward

Marc Hayward recently interacted with Outlook and shared CricFan's vision and his thoughts on the recently concluded IPL 2024 and the currently ongoing ICC T20 World Cup 2024. Below are the excerpts from his conversation with Outlook

Marc Hayward with Radha Yadav and others. CricFan
Indian women's cricket team player Radha Yadav (1st from lower left) posing for a photo with Marc Hayward (M) and others. Photo: Special Arrangement
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The anticipation for the upcoming Women's Asia Cup, followed by the ICC Women's T20 World Cup 2024 in Bangladesh, is lower than expected due to the ongoing ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2024 in West Indies and the United States. (More Cricket News)

However, women's cricket has experienced significant growth in recent years. According to former India captain and BCCI president Sourav Ganguly, the growth in women's cricket has been greater than in men's since 2019. And he is not the only person who thinks like that.

'Women's cricket has grown a lot in the last couple of years', believes Marc Hayward, the CEO of CricFan TV, a premium fan-engagement platform. He shared his thoughts on the increasing popularity of women's cricket and the challenges of running a fan-centric platform during the conversation with Outlook.

Below are the excerpts from his conversation with Outlook:-

  • The biggest T20 league ended recently with KKR winning the title. So how was the audience reception for the CricFan and how was your experience of the IPL 2024?

- Yes, fantastic. But one should not presume that during the IPL, the interaction with the audience is going to be very big. The market is saturated with content and many content creators who work 52 weeks a year are part of that. We came into the IPL with an open mind. We know what we do and what we do well and the interaction was fantastic. I am very pleased. The engagement was good. The podcasts got good views.

We launched a new platform during the IPL, called CricWin which allows our audience to get involved in a prize competition which was partnered with Radio City. Also, it was a new way to bring new people to the platform. Rather than speaking about scores, aims and pre-match analysis, we thought let's give the fans something. This is our prize giveaway competition which helps us engage with more audience. We don't charge anybody to play, people get involved and can also win free tickets. Every third day we have an auction. Right now, we have a signed cricket ball from Virat Kohli. We give giveaway prizes and gadgets daily. And yes we are pleasantly surprised and pretty happy with the numbers of engagement.

Marc Hayward
Marc Hayward, CEO of CricFan TV. Photo: Special Arrangement
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  • How does CricFan plan to bring the fans to the limelight?

- We provide a platform for the fans to have a voice and soon we are going to launch new concepts onto our social media platforms such as YouTube and Meta. We are doing things like Fanzone TV with JioCinema which gives a voice to the fans and it's a platform for them. We don't want to be too controversial so we want our people to be undone by their opinion and not to be instigated by the politics of television or whatever team they represent.

But, the fans are the flagbearers of the sport and they have a voice. We like to provide a platform for those voices. So, to answer your question, I would say CricFan is all about providing a platform for the fans to have a voice.

  • You mentioned controversy. India is a country where cricket is a religion, and fans are very passionate. What are the biggest challenges that CricFan has faced or is likely to face shortly?

- Sorry to say but I don't see any challenges regarding that. Everybody has their opinion whether you are enjoying the game with your family or watching it live in a stadium. The issue is that the presenters of broadcast companies like JioCinema and Star Sports or SONY, need to be very careful of what they say. I can't foresee any challenges as such. We may be asked by the producers of the network to watch the controversial comments. We also have to be careful of that.

We all know that TV is going to live on for many years but more and more people are shifting to their mobile phones with every passing day. We are all watching content on our mobile phones. People are watching more hours of content on their mobile phones than on SONY or Star Sports. And we are a digital-first company so if there are any certain challenges ahead which are based around big networks that are heavily regulated by rights wanting not to be controversial, then I would say more people will shift to the mobile-related content.

  • Is anything new coming for the ICC T20 World Cup 2024?

- We are continuing to focus on growing our community on social media with our podcast specials that will come up during the World Cup and we are looking forward to the CricWin accelerating through the World Cup just like how it did in the IPL. It is in addition to our website where you can visit and redeem tickets and win prizes. We will be giving prizes around international cricket players for India, the Indian international cricket players signed memorabilia and meet & greet opportunities, these kinds of things.

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  • What was the reason for starting an entity like CricFan? And what are there for women's cricket?

- It was to give the fans a platform. We are a big supporter of fan-driven content. We believe the fans are the flag bearers of the sport. So it was about giving fans something. Making a very well-polished format for them. Making sure that it doesn't have to be any fan but they have to interact with the audience to a degree. What inspired us was not just male fans, but female fans as well. We were very amazed by the reception of our "Queens of Cricket" podcasts.

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Queens of cricket cricfan
Queens of Cricket podcast. Photo: Special Arrangement
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Women's cricket is the fastest growing sport in the world and Queens of Cricket was launched to celebrate that. Because there are some old-school traditions about women in sports and we feel over the past couple of years, women's cricket and the business around it has increased with multiple leagues. The interactions, brand deals and opinions, formats and the evidence we have seen by producing this content, have been greater than the men's cricket. Yes WPL is not as big as IPL yet. It will take some time but our interaction during the WPL through the Queens of Cricket show was huge. Women in cricket and women fans are something that inspired us greatly.

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CricFan TV runs several shows keeping fans in the centre. Cricket Chirps, Fanzone, and Queens of Cricket are some of the very established and well-known shows.

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