The Olympics, Cricket, and Social:
How AI Can Grow New Fans for One of the World’s Most Popular Sports
Vinayak Shrivastav

With the inclusion of cricket in this year’s Olympics, how do you get audiences into the game quickly as new fans? With technology, of course! A game of cricket can be an eight-hour endeavor, and for audiences that are used to getting their sports in two- or three-hour games, this can be a real investment. One approach that could help immensely is to educate audiences in a “nugget” format that can be easily watched on social media, and AI can play a role in that.

Fast-Track to Cricket:
Utilizing Technology for New Olympic Fans

Cricket is finally poised to make a comeback in the Olympics after a 128-year absence, with the organizers of the 2028 Los Angeles event officially recommending its inclusion in the T20 format. The last time cricket featured in the Games was in 1900, when England triumphed over France in a solitary match in Paris, securing the gold medal.

It’s a sport deeply rooted in tradition. Its strategy has captivated fans around the world for centuries. From humble beginnings with test matches to swift modern formats, cricket has grown dynamically, embracing technological advancements. One such game-changing innovation in recent years has been the integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) into the sport. This revolutionary technology has the potential to transform cricket in profound and exciting ways.

Will Cricket be a Religion at the Games?

For a long time, cricket has thrived as a sport with consequential global statistics but limited international reach. Despite boasting a fan base of 2.5 billion and generating substantial TV revenue, primarily concentrated in Commonwealth countries (notably India, which makes up around 70% of these figures), cricket’s global presence has been relatively modest compared to football. However, with cricket, particularly in its T20 format, rejoining in 2028, a promising shift is on the horizon, both in terms of sports and commercial opportunities.

From a sporting perspective, the Summer Games offer an unparalleled platform for cricket, potentially surpassing even the significance of a World Cup. Including cricket in the Olympics is widely praised, with Keith Joseph, president of the Caribbean Association of National Olympic Committees (CANOC), strongly supporting the ICC’s efforts.

The Chosen One

The T20 format, known for its shorter duration and appeal to younger audiences, serves as an excellent vehicle for cricket’s Olympic aspirations. Additionally, the USA’s role as a co-host for the T20 World Cup in 2024 serves as a significant precursor to cricket’s Olympic reintroduction.

However, it would be naïve to expect cricket to immediately rival football in terms of universal appeal solely because of its Olympic inclusion. While the T20 format has facilitated cricket’s expansion into previously untapped regions like Africa, Europe, and Latin America, there remains a substantial gap between cricket and football in terms of global participation, as is clear from the vast difference in the number of ranked teams. That said, it’s important to note that cricket’s appearance in the Olympics is currently limited to Los Angeles for now, with hopes for future expansion, such as in Brisbane in 2032.

The primary advantages of cricket being included lie in the growth opportunities it presents. The Games offer a prestigious platform to showcase the sport to new audiences, fostering an increased following and attracting new fans. Moreover, it opens up new commercial avenues, potentially moving into untapped markets and expanding the sport’s global reach.

The AI Advantage

So how do you get audiences into the game quickly as new fans? The integration of AI technologies in sports production and content generation has streamlined processes and enhanced viewer experiences. AI-led solutions are revolutionizing sports production by improving storytelling, cataloging and discovery of content, creating auto-highlight packages, and enhancing interactive TV experiences. Educating new audiences on the plays, strategies, and noted players using these bite-sized, social-friendly nuggets can provide a foundation for new fans to truly enjoy the matches at the Games.

AI has transformed sports with highlight creation, automating the detection of key moments, segmenting content for easier viewing, and recognizing actions and players. It provides contextual analysis, offers real-time updates, and allows for personalized highlight reels based on viewer preferences. By streamlining tasks and enhancing content quality, AI enriches the viewer experience, making it easier for audiences to understand and appreciate the nuances of the game.

Cricket in the Olympics presents a transformative opportunity for the sport and the Games themselves. With the potential for increased revenue, global expansion, and enhanced viewers’ experiences through AI-driven content production, cricket’s return to the international stage promises to be a significant milestone in the sport’s evolution.

Vinayak Shrivastav is CEO and Co-founder of VideoVerse, a pioneering video technology company offering AI-driven editing tools, aiming to automate video content creation for both enterprises and individuals.