In the current sporting landscape, many rights-holders are facing a dual challenge of maintaining their fundamental revenue streams while also growing their participants and fans. This is a challenge which is increasingly demanding that revolution replace evolution.
In 2020, the ECB will launch The Hundred.
A roster of the world’s finest has already been recruited and drafted. Add to this mix the fortune of a good spell of weather and you can envisage the birth of a new, vibrant sporting and entertainment spectacle.
When I consider the building blocks needed to make a commercial success, The Hundred has a lot of these ingredients in place.
Easy to understand
Is the product being offered distinct? Irrespective of differing personal opinions on the concept, what cannot be denied is that there is a clear product offering.
100 balls each, most runs win.
Complexity is a common barrier to entry for potential fans, which is why the simplicity of this concept lends itself to conversion.
A real broadcast partnership
Sky Sports has long demonstrated exceptional commitment to the sport and with the BBC is part of a partnership which provides maximum audience potential. When complimented by coordinated social storytelling, the vehicle to engage an audience is in place. As this affinity grows, new fans can savour not just the jeopardy of who is going to win but start to explore the stories of the main protagonists. They can analyse and marvel at the skills that commanded these lead roles and suddenly Sky’s thematic channel, Sky Cricket, with its expert commentary, analysis and insight, is the best destination to meet these new needs.
The Cricket World Cup Final which compelled 8.92m viewers to tune in across Sky Sports and Channel 4, on one of the busiest summer sporting weekends in British history, is evidence that like with batting, broadcasting is best done in partnership.
Appointment to view
The commitment from the BBC to show 11 of the showpiece Men’s fixtures and the Women’s final in prime-time slots, represents an important and convenient appointment to view. These marquee games will be simulcast on Sky Sports, offering continuity for that existing audience, who will also be able to enjoy every tournament fixture on their trusted channel. This combination ensures multiple connection points to recruit, retain and reward as many people as possible.
Run across 38-days of the school holidays, during a summer period that follows the Uefa European Football Championship, The Hundred has a clear window in which to entertain.
The concept of eight city-based teams is aligned to the societal trend of urbanisation. There is an understanding that many of this new wave of fans who The Hundred wish to reach, have a far greater affiliation to a city than a county. “I’m from Manchester” has long replaced “I’m from Lancashire”. It has worked for football, rugby also and now cricket is playing to these city-based loyalties.
Brands that resonate
There is a clear desire from The Hundred to work with different sets of brands to those historically involved with cricket sponsorship. In partnering with KP Snacks, home to household brands such as Hula Hoops, McCoy’s and Tyrrells, there is a chance to engage a far wider audience.
Ready for its moment
A successful legacy is one that is planned for. With The Hundred following home-soil ICC Cricket World Cup triumphs for both the Men’s and Women’s teams, which captivated an existing audience and piqued the curiosity of millions of prospects, this timing may appear fortuitous, but it is far from it. The Hundred has been a long time in the planning and is well positioned to make the most of these successes.
The ECB will be keeping their fingers crossed that the sun shines and the stars also, but apart from that lottery every controllable ingredient for commercial success is in place. Nearly two decades on from the birth of Twenty20, another contemporary concept is ready to add to cricket’s rich tapestry.