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June 11, 2007
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In another significant landmark in its evolution, Cricinfo has been acquired by ESPN, the global sports media powerhouse. The acquisition was announced by ESPN and the Wisden Group earlier this morning.
With this, Cricinfo joins a stable of top-drawer sports websites including ESPN.com, the US's premier online sports destination, and ESPNsoccernet.com - the world's leading English-language football website.
"Growing our business in the online world is vital for us to serve sports fans," said Russell Wolff, managing director of ESPN International. "Cricinfo is a tremendous property with a great fan base and it will be a strong addition to ESPN."
Explaining the decision, Mark Getty, director of the Wisden Group, said: "Cricinfo has developed into a significant cricket brand in its own right, combining huge global popularity with strong commercial success. ESPN is a major sports broadcaster and international rights holder and will provide the perfect environment for Cricinfo to further realise its enormous potential."
The Wisden Group, Getty said, would continue to focus on its Hawk-Eye sports technology business in cricket, tennis and a growing range of other sports.
"We have had a strong working relationship with ESPN for a number of years," Tom Gleeson, Cricinfo's managing director, said, "and we know how successful they are in providing innovative online sports content. We look forward to drawing on ESPN's expertise in sports marketing and digital media."
Today's announcement marks the latest stage of Cricinfo's evolution since its inception, in 1993, as an online community of cricket fans supplying cricket-related information on a voluntary basis.
Cricket lends itself perfectly to online coverage: the length of matches and the statistics-rich nature of the game combine to drive high global usage and build loyalty, and that's where Cricinfo has scored. Beginning with scorecards and live scores, the portal pioneered audio and video streaming of cricket matches.
After few years of independent existence, Cricinfo received its first major investment in 1999 from Sify, an Indian IT company, which acquired a majority stake in the company. It changed hands four years later when the Wisden Group, which then ran its own cricket website, wisden.com, bought it.
Since then Cricinfo has built on its reputation for providing accurate, live scoring from cricket matches the world over, by adding ball-by-ball commentary for most international games and building a database including every one of the 3000 international and 45,000 first-class cricketers to have played the game. It always had breadth, and it acquired depth by tapping into Wisden's traditional strengths in terms of comment, analysis and general reportage by the world's leading cricket writers.
The merger of those two resources has made Cricinfo the world's leading cricket website today, ranked number one in all of its major markets and reaching more than seven million users every month. The site's reach, authority and brand recognition is unrivalled in the online cricket world. And Cricinfo now reaches beyond the Internet - so that fans can get Cricinfo content on mobile applications and on some of the world's leading internet portals.
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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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