Last week, ESPN announced it would return with coverage of the 2016 VIVO Indian Premier League season (April 9-May 29) by offering live and on-demand streaming in the U.S. through ESPN Cricket Pass, a subscription streaming service accessible on computers, smartphones, tablets and connected devices through a dedicated website and app.
The launch draws on the success of ESPN Cricket 2015 and once again offers an additive digital product.
Front Row caught up with Vice President, Digital Direct-to-Consumer Services, Damon Phillips, who shared his thoughts on the significance of the return of ESPN Cricket Pass.
Why does a subscription streaming service make sense for cricket fans?
Cricket fans are extremely passionate and loyal, and live cricket has historically been a pay-per-view or premium subscription business in the U.S. This is also a great example of leveraging our long-time investment in technology and digital product development to deliver content that may not yet have enough of a scale audience (in the U.S., at least) to make sense on our linear channels. We have a respected position leadership in the sport of cricket, through ESPNcricinfo. That gives us a natural place to connect and communicate to the growing audience of U.S. cricket fans, who would be the most interested in ESPN Cricket Pass.
How can fans watch the IPL 2016 season on television?
There are multiple ways to live stream the IPL on TV. The ESPN Cricket Pass app is available on Roku as well as on iOS devices, where fans can connect their iPhone or iPad to Apple TV via AirPlay. We are in discussions with a number of distributors to offer the IPL 2016 season through pay-per-view on set top boxes as well.
Are you considering other sports beyond cricket for this type of product?
I think it is fair to say that we’re aggressively exploring opportunities to serve new audiences that don’t currently exist on our linear networks. We’ve done that for years with ESPN3, and we’ll continue to explore where direct-to-consumer services like ESPN Cricket Pass make sense also.