Americans are rather hesitant to change, especially when it comes to sports. After years of attempting to make soccer a popular sport in the United States, it’s only been in the last few years that the MLS has gained some star power and recognition with Americans. The world’s most popular sport took a lifetime to gain some traction in the U.S, and although it’s popularity has grown immensely recently, when the weekend hits, major networks still aren’t covering soccer on a grand scale and is still having trouble competing with the likes of the MLB, NBA and most of all the NFL. Nobody is saying soccer has the potential to overcome any of the major sports in the U.S, but it just goes to show how resistant to change we can be.
ESPN, the worldwide leader in sports, is now attempting to do the impossible, make Cricket popular in the United States. This past Sunday, ESPN aired a live cricket match to millions of Americans, just when the MLB season is kicking off. Granted the game between India and Sri Lanka was broadcasted at 9am eastern, so it’s wasn’t exactly primetime, but just the fact that it was aired is a major move by ESPN.
Although official ratings won’t be in until Wednesday, ESPN believes that they can grow the neglected sport because of their vast network which reaches nearly 96 million homes.
“We think cricket has the chance to get out to a broader audience and be on a bigger platform,” Russell Wolff, ESPN International’s executive vice president told Reuters in an interview held last week.
With roughly 30 million self-identified cricket fans in America, ESPN is trying to spearhead the movement and take advantage of it’s potential earnings. A major problem that lies in the balance with cricket is among young people, who have slowly but surely been watching less and less baseball, stating it’s slow nature as a major hinderance on gaining their viewership. Cricket matches can last anywhere from three hours to five days, so making the transition isn’t going to be easy but apparently ESPN feels they can bring in the audience.