Natives from countries like Britain and Australia may be surprised with this fact: there are people across the globe that don’t know anything about the popular game called cricket.
For many boys it’s a game central to their childhood as they grow up playing it with their friends at home and with peers at school. Some hope to one day make their careers from playing for their countries’ national teams. But in America baseball and football carry this prominence with children and adults.
Until recently, cricket was rarely even mentioned in the US. But now it’s changing. All thanks to a TV channel called Willow catering for some of cricket’s most dedicated fans.
There are many loved sports activities across the globe. What makes cricket so different that an entire channel is dedicated to it in a country where very few pursue the game?
Though the game originated in the UK, in India you’ll see it’s much more than a simple sport. It’s basically part of Indian culture and while it’s such a huge nation, cricket can be found in almost all aspects of its society. Also worth a mention are sites like www.sportsbetting24.in that also have an important part in getting the word out and spreading the news about the sport.
For an Indian living abroad watching cricket forms a valuable connection with his or her country of origin. Best of all, on Willow the games are broadcast in HD.
Firstly, you may wonder why a TV Sports channel is named after a tree. Americans may not know this but ‘willow’ refers to the type of wood used to make quality cricket bats.
Willow was started in 2010 to cater for the large number of people who are of Indian descent but reside in the US. There have been changes over the years such as 2013’s merge with NEO Cricket’s American network. Today the channel is broadcast to Americans and Canadians as a pay television channel but you can also access an online streaming version.
Viewers get access to cricket games 24/7 with live as well as recorded games to enjoy.
Willow empowers watchers to view popular games as it has the rights to broadcast prominent international matches such as ICC T20 and the Cricket World Cup. Apart from Indian league games avid supporters also enjoy broadcasts from other regions including Hong Kong Cricket Sixes and the Caribbean Premier League.
Simply by mentioning these leagues you can see that cricket’s reach has stretched across the globe and it seems America is the next country to join in.
While the idea of colonization is mostly to take something from the developed world to a developing country, thanks to technology the opposite can happen now. And it only takes a TV channel to get it right as the game can be broadcast to anywhere in the world.
Thanks to this unique channel cricket is becoming more well known, although the channel still has a small number of viewers in comparison to other sports channels. But its growing importance has not gone unnoticed as is clear from the fact that it was purchased by Times Internet Ltd in 2016. And when it comes to advertising, even the Toyota Motor Corporation is considering launching marketing material on this platform.
The growth of the channel represents the growth of the Asian population in the US. In 2017 it was the fastest growing ethnic group in the US with Indians the second biggest group apart from Chinese.
Part of this Asian group’s influence in US society is introducing Americans to the exciting sport of cricket. And locals’ interest is definitely growing. Already there is talk of a T20 series in America. The only alteration to the game may be that Americans will enjoy the short T20 matches much more than long five-day series games that Indians still find enjoyable.
Centuries ago America was seen as the New World. For many people it’s still a haven of opportunity. And each one that travels there will influence his or her community in a unique way.
For the Indian community Willow became a tool to enjoy and share their home country’s culture. It’s a way of educating Americans about what they’re missing out on.
Will cricket become as popular as baseball? Will other countries develop similar channels to cater for this market? Only time will tell.