Lalit Modi’s IPL, Google and YouTube – A paradigm shift in sports entertainment

Imagine sitting at your home and watching IPL online. Not such a new idea, some may say. But how about doing it officially? Yes! Now the entire world can watch IPL live on none other than YouTube. Doesn’t that sound cool?

On 21st Jan, 2010, the official channel of IPL on YouTube posted this video in which Lalit Modi, IPL Chairman, announced IPL’s partnership with Google and YouTube to show IPL live on YouTube.

Lalit Modi never fails to surprise us. This man has not only taken Indian cricket to the next level and made it global; he has also managed to rope in biggest technological corporations in the world to get closely associated with a new Indian religion, yes, Cricket. Without doubt, this will be a paradigm shift in how cricket is seen online.

This a win-win situation for everyone involved. IPL is no short of advertising revenue from world largest corporations producing everything from consumer goods to electrical appliances. Even large business to business brands have not shied away from branding activities with IPL. But all this was yet offline. This is not to say that nothing was happening online, but surely not on this scale. The world is changing fast and some leaders are helping it shape in the most enticing and fascinating way, Modi is one of them.

Actually, if we look at it, it is only a rational move from a revenue expansion perspective. IPL is surely a high interest event. Offline, it receives a significantly large amount of ad spend. Google is world online advertising engine. IPL could not have found a better platform than Google and YouTube to go online. Those who were questioning Google move to acquire YouTube, as for a long time, the idea hadn’t reached breakeven, can now comfortably forget what they said. Not to suggest that IPL will set everything right with YouTube, but imagine the range of opportunities such as business move opens up for search giant Google. 

Let us not forget, that this may never happened if the Indian consumer was not cricket hungry. Cricket mania has long left its safe shores of suit-tied Englishmen clapping at a boundary and sipping imported tea, it has become the fastest growing sports economy in the east. 10 years before, no one could have imagined that cricket would be a multibillion dollar economy and players from all over the world would be auctioned at outrageous prices by who’s who of India ranging from Bollywood superstar to heads of business empires to publishers. But Lalit Modi led this revolution. I wouldn’t forget to mention that Subhash Chandra’s ICL was an earlier bet that got killed in the competition.

After all, religion (cricket) is a profitable business!

I would waste time in reiterating the features this new idea will offer. At www.youtube.com/ipl, we will be able to watch not just the live feed, but also a fun feed. There will be archives or all the games. More creative lots will be able to build content around these videos and also from the videos. Indeed, you can generate your own videos of highlights, wickets, catches, funny moments, arguments, bad decisions and what have you! All of these can be linked with Personal Blogs, Twitter Accounts, Facebook Pages and a whole gamut of content aggregation sites.

On the flip side, this will also need bandwidth and there will be much load on servers. Nothing to worry about in India as people will always have an option to watch it on TV and then play with the content online.

There will be another set of cricket fans outside India who must be elated with the idea. I remember watching most matches of cricket online when I was attending business school in the US. At Thunderbird, we all used to find live feeds from wherever we could and watch the match online. The feeds were intermittent, of low quality and in most cases, illegal. This issue is now solved. Indians abroad will be able to watch it all on YouTube. Relieved!

Last but not least, I remember Thomas Friedman’s ideas from The World is Flat. I would like to add one more flattener to his list. YouTube! This is how one democratizes entertainment.

Microsoft and Yahoo!, do you have an answer?

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