September 26, 2023
How Major League Cricket is Making a Play for America
A New Innings for Cricket in the Land of Opportunities
If you search for actual viewer numbers, it’s evident that cricket competes with soccer on a global scale. Soccer takes the lead with 3.5 billion viewers, while cricket follows closely with 2.5 billion. Cricket, frequently acknowledged for its substantial worldwide fanbase, has historically faced challenges in gaining traction in the United States. Nevertheless, a new era is emerging in American sports as Major League Cricket (MLC) steps onto the scene, unveiling an ambitious strategy to reshape the sporting landscape.
This ambitious endeavor aims to bring cricket, with all its grace and fervor, to the forefront of American sporting consciousness.
Cricket’s Journey Across Borders
For hundreds of years, Cricket has been the centerpiece of culture in countries including England, India, Australia, and the Caribbean. Now with the ever-expanding list of global T20 franchise leagues comes the addition of America’s Major League Cricket (MLC), which some believe could be the biggest disrupter the sport has seen for some time.
It all began in 1844 when the first international cricket game was played between the USA and Canada at the St George’s Cricket Club in New York. Following that, in 1859, a team of leading English professionals embarked on the first-ever overseas tour to North America.
Fast forward to 1965, the American Cricket Association was formed, marking the inception of organized cricket efforts in the United States. Since then, numerous endeavors have been made to popularize the sport, ranging from grassroots initiatives to international exhibition matches. However, it wasn’t until the establishment of Major League Cricket that American sports fans truly began to take notice.
A Strategic Blueprint for Success
How Will MLC Become America’s Next Sports Obsession?
Major League Cricket’s strategy is to build on the large tradition of cricket with the demands of the modern American audience by presenting the sport as accessible and exciting, rather than an esoteric pastime. MLC understands that cricket’s rules and terminologies might be unfamiliar to many Americans, so they have taken measures to simplify and explain the intricacies of the sport.
In line with this approach, the inaugural 6 franchise teams consist of established franchises/organizations with significant expertise, resources, and a substantial fan base from their respective origins. Four of these franchises are derived from the highly prosperous Indian Premier League (IPL), while the remaining two represent Australian states, each having ties to the Big Bash League (BBL) franchises. Notably, the IPL, BBL, English T20 league, The Hundred, South African T20 league, and Caribbean T20 leagues have all achieved remarkable success in inspiring the creation of additional domestic leagues, fostering heightened fan engagement, participation, and enthusiasm.
Beyond that, the league recognized the power of sports entertainment in America. As such, they aim to integrate captivating elements such as vibrant team identities, dynamic fan engagement strategies, and state-of-the-art arenas, creating an immersive experience for new MLC fans. By adapting cricket to fit the preferences of American sports enthusiasts while preserving its core essence, Major League Cricket is positioning itself for a shot at fandom success.
Over the past few years, the MLC’s efforts have secured more than $40 million in funding and over $100 million in “handshakes” with private investors including tech giant Microsoft.
Fanning the Flames of Fandom
What makes any sports team is its cult following and the undying passion of its fans.
By cultivating fan engagement through interactive experiences and initiatives like meet-and-greet sessions with players, MLC will ignite a new fan base and foster a sense of belonging.
In support of their on-site activations, MLC will use the power of social media and digital platforms, to reach wider audiences and create a virtual community for cricket fans across the nation.
Forging Partnerships and Broadcast Reach
Building on in-person experiences and digital campaigns, MLC is working towards establishing partnerships with sports broadcasting networks and streaming platforms. This year they secured deals with the CBS Sports division of the CBS network and streaming service Sling TV. This will ensure every match is easily accessible, reaching a more diverse audience of sports enthusiasts and legitimizing cricket’s presence in America.
Shaping the American Sports Narrative
The emergence of Major League Cricket has the potential to deepen the American love of sports and athleticism, joining the ranks of the NFL, NBA, and MLB. As cricket gains traction in the US, it introduces a new layer of diversity to the sporting landscape, offering a fresh perspective to sports fans in America.
The Minor League is also an integral part of this vision, which lays the foundation for sustainable and inclusive growth of cricket in the American sports scene, envisioning a future where cricket proudly stands among the nation’s top sports. It’s not simply about adding another sport to the weekend lineup, it’s about embracing new culture, fostering communities, and creating shared experiences that transcend the game.
Cricket is set to make its triumphant return to the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles. To prepare for the arrival of this exciting sport on American soil and the Olympics, brush up on Cricket terms HERE.