CRICKET FANS NEW VIEWING EXPERIENCE

Cricket Fan’s New Viewing Experience

And so what if you can’t visit the stadium now – you could choose a camera angle, freeze a view, or perhaps even take a 3D fly through of a stadium in the future!

The just-concluded 13th Indian Premier League saw a record-breaking 28 per cent increase in viewership compared to the last edition, the tournament in the UAE providing welcome relief to a world scarred by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pandemic and the bio-bubbles that players had to endure for weeks made organising this edition of the tournament a challenging feat.

NEW VIEWING IN OTT

Could this be the future of viewing sport? Seeing how many viewers now watch a live stream of their match on their handheld devices, this could very well be the truth! Starting with a basic live stream, increasingly there have been tech additions to make this experience more interactive and immersive.

With the pandemic situation, this is the option available as we have witnessed the IPL 2020 tournament as spectators were not allowed inside the stadiums of Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi.  

Viewers now choose their preferred commentary language. Live comments are enabled throughout the match and fans can often interact with each other via these comments. Sometimes studio experts too join in the fun! Other aspects of such personalised content through the OTT platform include on-the-spot contests/challenges asking viewers to predict the next shot/final score/which player will end up with the most wickets/runs.

We have seen the Fans Wall created in the IPL 2020 and shown on the big screens of the IPL tournament stadiums.

Broadcasters have cameras now specifically focused on the spectators to capture their reactions and share them on the big screen. DJs, RJs, cheerleaders drum up the excitement and add to the colour. And the crowds have found new ways to entertain themselves as well when the action wanes – with Mexican waves to beer snakes! From waving flags of your teams to wearing their jerseys, team merchandise has added to the immersive experience for in-stadia fans. 

And even if you haven’t got a place in the stadium or there isn’t a match in your city, you can still enjoy the experience in Fan Parks. The IPL Fan Parks recreated the atmosphere of in-stadia viewing with large screens, a vibrant atmosphere filled with lights and music and excited fans cheering on their teams. When used along with VR (Virtual Reality) glasses, the experience can become even more immersive than that of a fan watching the match in a stadium. 

Last, but not the least, is the use of VR (Virtual Reality) glasses to enhance the home viewing experience. By putting on these glasses, a fan can be transported directly to the field of the play / stadium, and get a completely immersive viewing experience. These glasses are not very common yet due to limitations like price and pervasiveness of high speed wireless networks, but with the advent of 5G, even this technology is not far from being ubiquitously deployed.

Some IPLFranchisees had their own way to stay connected with their fan base across the globe putting across some new initiatives to catch up with the world sports competitiveness keeping in mind the growing digital viewing.  Mumbai Indians, the high profile Franchisee and KXIP have announced their plans. 

MUMBAI INDIANS INITIATIVES

MI Live is a concept where fans are welcomed to Mumbai Indians’ live studio show from their home. The Mumbai Indians-specific live show invited fans to be a part of a pre, mid and post-match show which is interactive and light-hearted.

The 14-match day shows produced by Mumbai Indians and live streamed simultaneously on MI’s official YouTube channel, Facebook page, Twitter account and on a dedicated channel on Jio TV.

MI Live connected MI’s One Family spread across the country to join the virtual studio with the host presenter to discuss fans’ predictions, analysis and other fun filled activities.

Paltan Play in association with Samsung is a second screen experience game, which allowed participants to play & compete against each other on Mumbai Indians match days. Fans are encouraged to analyse an ongoing MI match and predict the number of runs to be scored and wickets to be taken per over.

The “ Mumbai Indians “ mobile App, the game has its own unique points system and a special chip. Live leaderboard within the game will indicate participants’ ranks on a match by match basis.

Virtual Wankhede is an innovative concept by Mumbai Indians, in association with Myntra, is to provide the MI Paltan with an opportunity to cheer their team alongside fellow supporters connected virtually.

Virtual Wankhede will encourage the Paltan from across India to come together as ‘One Family’ and connect via video conference while they watch MI matches from home.

MI Buddy is an interactive AI powered WhatsApp bot which will deliver Mumbai Indians-related information on demand for fans on their mobile devices.

KXIP INITIATIVE

On the eve of IPL 2020, the Franchise KXI Punjab entered  into a partnership with Spektacom’s Power Bat technology.  The company’s Power Sticker will provide real-time batting analytics to Kings XI Players for use in their individual and team practice sessions.  It helps the coaches to fine tune the batting skills of their players.  The KXIP franchise entered into an organic partnership with Anil Kumble’s Spektacom to use patent-pending PowerBatTM technology. The technology will provide real-time batting analytics to the KXIP team. The players can use the same during their net training sessions.

Spektacom’s Chief Product Officer Abhishek Binaykia said that the PowerBatTM technology “enables players to bring in a completely new dimension to their match preparation and performance”. He added that with the technology, a player can “objectively measure” their shots. Binaykia further stated that they are excited to be associated with the KXIP team and they are looking to further enhance their “power hitting capabilities” for the IPL 2020 season.

While technologies like ball tracking, pitch map, etc. provide great data driven insights into matches, technologies related to smart cricket bats like Spektacom PowerBat focus on the efficacies of shot making.

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