Mumbai: CricketNext (www.cricketnext.com), the Walchand Capital Group-driven Internet portal, has bagged the prestigious rights for the mega ICC Cricket World Cup in South Africa commencing on 8 February 2003.
Says CricketNext managing director Sanjay Jha: ''CricketNext has already successfully hosted and managed the ICC Champions Trophy in Sri Lanka last September in a similar capacity as a website partner. Now, the World Cup is a mega event and we will be deploying exceptional editorial, marketing and technological resources to make the event a runaway success.''
CricketNext has demonstrated its outstanding success through incisive editorial coverage, interactive features and financial resilience resulting in approximately 85-million page views per month, and over 600,000 regular visitors.
Says CricketNext director Pallavi Jha: ''For the first time ever, there will be large-scale global webcasting of the event, including live streaming, video highlights, delayed relays and audio commentary. With improved broadband availability in recent times, we expect an overwhelming response to webcasting from non-resident Indians and other customers, particularly in countries where cricket is not the prime sport on local channels.''
She adds that CricketNext will also be offering SMS services, with pre-determined alerts on scores, and other match highlights, given their rising popularity.
''The site will provide visitors with ball-by-ball scorecards, previews and game analysis, exclusive photos, instant match reports, international columnists, weather forecasts, quizzes, contests, cartoons and games. Thus, the site will be an ideal place for the 3Cs - connoisseur, convert and the casual visitor,'' says Sanjay Jha.
''We have created exciting sponsorship and advertising options, which include official match tickets, airfare and hotel stay, autographed bats, usage of database, and premium and innovative online properties,'' he adds. CricketNext will be hosting, managing and creating the entire content for the event site, which will have links with CricketNext.
''The Internet will be the most popular medium during the World Cup, particularly for cricket lovers in India,'' he says. ''Given the fact that 81 per cent of the 54 matches are day-matches (which means that they start at around 13.30 pm IST) and 79 per cent of the matches are on weekdays, one can easily foresee the massive response from the office-going segment. Secondly, with February-March being also active periods, office absenteeism is extremely low. Advertisers and brands have an excellent opportunity to capitalise on the Internet medium given the time factor, savvy Internet audience, interactive capabilities and, of course, the cost advantage.''
Pallavi Jha emphasises that CricketNext had established the fact that an Indian dotcom company could become a global leader if it adhered to basic disciplines of good content, high interactivity, user-friendliness and fiscal discipline. ''CricketNext will move from being merely cash-flow positive to declaring profit for the year ending March 2003.''