FanCode, the Indian digital sports platform, has secured exclusive live-streaming rights to the first four editions of The Hundred, the new short-form domestic cricket competition set to launch in the UK next week.
FanCode, which launched in 2019, has struck a deal with the England and Wales Cricket Board, which will give FanCode exclusive coverage rights to the new competition, set to feature both men’s and women’s editions, until the end of the 2024 season.
The ECB, which will be relieved to have struck an eleventh-hour coverage deal for The Hundred in cricket’s biggest market, has entered into the deal with Dream Sports, the fantasy game operator which owns FanCode.
It has been reported in Indian media that the ECB had held talks with both Sony Pictures Networks and dominant pay-TV broadcaster Star Sports about covering the competition, which will involve eight men’s and eight women’s city-based franchise teams, before turning to FanCode after the initial conversations failed to bring about an agreement.
The Hundred was created by the ECB to engage with new audiences, and, having been postponed by a year because of the coronavirus pandemic, the inaugural season starts on 21 July, with Oval Invincibles taking on Manchester Originals in London.
FanCode has said it will create a personalised experience for Indian fans watching The Hundred, with features set to include multimedia commentary, in-depth statistics and analysis, real-time match highlights, and interactive data overlays.
It has also been reported that fans will have the option of signing up for the either the entire tournament or for one single game at a time on FanCode.
Tony Singh, chief commercial officer at the ECB, has said: “ As both FanCode and DreamSports are at the forefront of transforming digital sports engagement in India, we are thrilled to partner with them to bring the most comprehensive and immersive sports experience for Indian cricket fans.”
Prasana Krishnan, FanCode’s co-founder, added: “Continuous digital innovation in creating unmatched sports viewing and engagement experience is an important part of our customer promise, and The Hundred, with its unique format, fits in perfectly with what we at FanCode stand for.”
This represents one of the first significant international broadcast deals the ECB has managed to strike for The Hundred.
Pay-TV's Sky has full domestic rights to the tournament, while some matches – from both the men’s and women’s editions – will be shown by the BBC, the UK's public-service broadcaster.
Sky will also make all matches available for free on its YouTube channel.
The format – with each team facing only 100 balls, as opposed to the length of each innings being determined by the number of overs bowled – was specifically designed to appeal to what is perceived as the decreasing attention spans of broadcast audiences.
FanCode’s cricket portfolio includes all West Indies international fixtures, as well as the Bangladesh Premier League and the European Cricket League, while in other sports it holds rights to American football’s NFL, German soccer’s Bundesliga, and basketball’s NBA.