Making ODIs attractive again – The Hindu BusinessLine

The poor attendance at the opening match of the 2023 cricket World Cup at Ahmedabad on Thursday has reignited the concerns over the future of ODI, 50-over format. A few influential cricketers are on record as saying this could well be the last tournament of a series that started 48 years ago, and of which India has won two.

This would be a great pity because no other game offers so many variations on the theme. Cricket stands alone in that respect. Its non-linear nature is enough to guarantee that.

From a purely economics viewpoint also the ODI format presents an interesting problem wherein the demand for cricket is very robust in most cricket playing countries, the supply of viewers of ODI games is not.

Demand dynamics

Many would argue that this is not a paradox at all because while the demand for, say, food or cars remains high, the demand for certain dishes or models tapers off. The problem in my view is the offer of alternatives. Thus, as long as the ODIs didn’t come along, the demand for Test matches was high. Then the T20s did to ODIs what the ODIs had done to Tests. Soon, the 100-ball format will diminish the attractiveness of T20s also. So should the International Cricket Council stop devising new formats? That would certainly be one way to go, but a better approach would be to make a more careful study of market segmentation for other products.

There are many ways to cater to segmented markets. In cricket it would be best to take the demographic approach. Once the characteristics of the different segments are fully identified, the ODI can be properly slotted with appropriate advertising, which seems to be the main problem.

As to stadium attendance, the answer is to use only small capacity ones — 25,000 — and provide appropriate facilities for the chosen demographic segment. Dedicated hotels near the ground and comfortable lounges would attract the less-in-a-hurry age group.

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