Friday, January 15, 2010

From Midwicket to Extra Cover – Repositioning of ODI Cricket

Priyak Purkayastha, Rudranil Dutta | MDI Gurgaon
Change has become the buzzword these days and so to flourish, one has to innovate. With the advent of 20-20, cricket has evolved to rake in the moolah but simultaneously it has diluted the image of the older version of limited overs cricket. As a result, the latter has lost relevance and in the process, revenues as well. The recently concluded ICC Champions Trophy 2009 has fetched a first day television rating point of 0.9% on ESPN, whereas the first day of the IPL 2009 had a television rating point of 3.2%. This fact is a mere illustration of the debate – whether the T20 format of cricket is eating into the pie of ODI cricket and whether ODI cricket can survive the storm. This article extends the argument with the help of marketing concepts like perceptual mapping and brand cannibalization.

Contributing Factors
The huge fan following for cricket can be attributed to two distinct factors – (a) appreciation of the talent, skill and class associated with the game and (b) the entertainment factor associated with the game. Depending on these two factors, the positions of Test, ODI and T20 crickets have occupied distinct places in the viewers’ minds. The history of cricket can be divided into three periods:

1. Prevalence of Test Cricket
2. Advent of ODI cricket and coexistence of both Test and ODI cricket
3. Advent of T20 cricket and question on the existence of ODI cricket
The three periods mentioned above can be analyzed with the help of Perceptual mapping diagrams.

1. Prevalence of Test Cricket
Test cricket in its early years was slow and often resulted in draws. However the uncovered pitches and lack of proper cricket gear ensured the highest levels of skill and class. Hence it was very high in
terms of talent association and low in terms of entertainment association. The perceptual mapping diagram is illustrated below.

2. Advent of ODI cricket and coexistence of both Test and ODI cricket
With the advent of ODI cricket, the game became broadly divided into two categories. People still watched test cricket because of the heritage, class and skill. However the fan following of ODI grew rapidly because of its face paced, result oriented nature and the excitement associated with it. The World Cups added ultimate flavor to this craze. ODI also made Test cricket relatively fast paced and result oriented and hence increased its entertainment quotient to some extent. However purists did not consider ODI as a measure of class and talent still it managed to occupy a place of its own. The perceptual mapping diagram is illustrated below.
3. Advent of T20 cricket and question on the existence of ODI cricket
The launch of T20 cricket has resulted in a massive positive reaction amongst the cricket fanatics especially the younger generation. It has been launched keeping in mind the demand of a format which is crisp and packed with entertainment. It is targeted at the people who consider this version as a substitute for watching a movie in multiplex or having a day out in an entertainment park. Hence considerable stress is given on the entertainment quotient and the brevity of the format. Moreover the effect of T20 on Test cricket has been evident resulting in higher run rates in test matches, thereby increasing the entertainment factor associated with test cricket. ODI cricket has been trapped in the middle and its unique association in the minds of followers has been replaced by a diffused association. This has resulted in an ambiguous brand image of the ODI format.

As explained in the diagram, the combination of a relatively fast paced test cricket and the entertainment packed T20 cricket have eaten away the shares of ODI cricket to a considerable extent. This resulted in brand cannibalization. The perceptual mapping diagram is illustrated below.
Solution to counter Cannibalization
Hence the effect of brand cannibalization in ODI cricket can be removed by repositioning ODI cricket as a higher skill and higher entertainment format as shown in the diagram.
Thus the challenge for ICC is to implement rules in ODI so that
Skill and talent associated with the format gets increased in comparison to the present situation.
Entertainment factor increases to become on par with T20 cricket.
Suggestions for repositioning of ODI cricket
High skill and high entertainment are both ensured only when there is a high quality contest between good bowlers and good batsmen.
Rules should be changed so as to declare a team of 16 before any match instead of 11. Substitution should be allowed at one go between innings without any limit on the number of players to be substituted. This ensures that at each inning, the best bunch of bowlers is bowling to the best bunch of batsmen.
Rules regarding powerplays should be revised so as to increase the entertainment factor. Similarly bowlers should be facilitated with some rules to avoid the game being one-sided.
As suggested by Sachin Tendulkar, instead of a constant stretch of 50 overs a side, the game can be divided into 4 innings of 25 overs each, with two innings per side. This will reduce the monotony in the eyes of the younger generation.

The amount of money poured into the new format of ODI will increase automatically with increase in demand for television rights, which in turn depends on the viewership of the repositioned ODI. Thus the focus should be given to its repositioning and the changes that have been suggested are mere examples to drive home this point of view.

1 comment:

Elena Smithson said...

Truly a great post. Thanks for such a great information.


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