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Tom Gleeson, the managing director of Cricinfo, answers readers' questions following the site's acquisition by ESPN
June 14, 2007
As most of you are aware, Cricinfo has been acquired by ESPN, one of the world's leading sports media companies. We have received a huge amount of feedback to the news from our users from all over the world. Some of you raised some legitimate concerns about how the acquisition might affect the future of Cricinfo and how it might affect the nature of our coverage.
On your behalf we put these questions to Tom Gleeson, the managing director of Cricinfo, and here are the answers.
The biggest worry is that, due to the demands of ESPN's bottom line, Cricinfo will start charging for use of the site, or part of it (especially archives). One of the biggest attractions of Cricinfo is that, unlike most top news portals, the entire site is free to use (and doesn't require registration). Is this in any danger following the takeover?
Cricinfo owes its success and popularity to providing the best and most complete cricket coverage as free content. ESPN recognise this and have no plans to alter the format of Cricinfo. Fans really like the product today; we will just work with ESPN to look to enhance it over time.
One of the biggest running stories in world cricket today is the plethora of TV deals, the millions/billions of dollars involved, how the deals unravel, what pressures they place on the game itself. Cricinfo has done a lot of writing on this issue, much of it critical of how TV programming is taking over the game. The takeover will bring up a conflict of interest - ESPN is part owner of ESPN-Star Sports, one of the biggest broadcasters in world cricket and the organisation that currently holds the ICC's telecast rights. Will Cricinfo manage to retain editorial independence on this issue?
ESPN's acquisition of Cricinfo.com was not a joint venture with ESPN-Star Sports. Cricinfo.com is not defined by regions; nor is it editorially tied only to Asia. Cricinfo.com is the world's leading cricket website, which is used by fans globally. Our editorial independence will remain intact.
Indian readers have been curious about another aspect to the relationship between Cricinfo and ESPN-Star Sports. There is a feeling that Cricinfo can bring its unmatched insightful analysis, archival storage and wealth of statistics to a greater audience through TV, especially in India. Is this a possibility? What will be the relationship between Cricinfo and ESPN-Star?
Now that the deal has been completed we will begin working with ESPN-Star Sports to explore how we can work together in a mutually beneficial way.
Cricket is a game famous for its idiosyncrasies and its indulgence of eccentricity. It is unlike any mainstream American sport. That culture spills over into cricket journalism, from match commentary to feature writing to the way journalists look at the sport. One of Cricinfo's strengths has been its ability to provide blanket coverage yet maintain that idiosyncratic streak. Is there a danger of Cricinfo's reportage being dovetailed into the more factual, dry, statistics-oriented style that Americans prefer?
There is no danger of this. Cricinfo will continue to offer the highest-quality cricket coverage tailored to our global audience.
On a related theme, one of the bonuses associated with Cricinfo was its regular use of articles from The Wisden Cricketer magazine and Wisden Cricketers' Almanack. Will that relationship continue?
The relationship with Wisden will continue and Wisden content will be available on Cricinfo.
Some of our readers in the US hope that "ESPN actually uses this purchase to bring cricket to the States, and not just to expand its international footprint in South Asia/Australia". Any comments on that? Any plans for more US coverage or promotional activities?
The US is a big market for Cricinfo, with two million people in the States already using Cricinfo on a regular basis. We certainly hope that cricket continues to develop in the States and that Cricinfo can be a part of that.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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