Round-up: The Fan Engagement Podcast ep #4

By Genius Sports | 31 Jul 2023

On episode 4 of The Fan Engagement Podcast, host Megan Cain was joined by Rob Johnson, Head of Digital Content at The Hundred.

When the England & Wales Cricket Board launched The Hundred in 2021, it set out to make cricket more dynamic and engaging for youthful, more diverse audiences.

Fast-forward two years, The Hundred is breaking new ground; in 2022 the league attracted over 500,000 fans into stadiums in the UK, achieved record-breaking TV viewing figures and drew 4.9 million fans to watch women’s cricket.   

‘A new format to appeal to a new type of cricket fan’

While cricket is a global game with formats ranging from five days to around three hours, it has historically faced an ageing audience challenge. On a mission to engage new demographics, The Hundred developed a new highly-marketable, fast and simple 100-ball format across its men’s and women’s games.

Appearing on The Fan Engagement Podcast, Rob Johnson explained how this has helped The Hundred “appeal to a new audience and throw the doors open of cricket”.

Rob added: “We’re bringing in that diversity, we’re seeing more families, more female fans and that can only help us grow the game.” This diversity is reflected in The Hundred’s scheduling and format, both in terms of having back-to-back women’s and men’s games but also on their marketing and social channels where both competitions are given equal prominence.

‘Take control of the data ecosystem to understand fans’

For sports and brands of all sizes, engaging audiences is only half the battle. To effectively monetise fans and build loyalty, they need to gain a deep understanding of their audience, usually through an ownable database that marketers can segment and market to.

Capturing audience data and mapping it to different fan segments is key to The Hundred’s growth strategy, enabling it to tailor its experience for wider audiences than the traditional cricket fan.

According to Rob, this is made possible through The Hundred’s forward-thinking approach to its digital ecosystem: “So that’s the master brand of The Hundred, the website where you come and buy your tickets, the companion app that you would use to activate those tickets or to play games, watch clips or highlights.”.

This means that The Hundred is “in a really useful position where we can learn about the fans, we can consolidate that data piece and understand where our fans are coming from and communicate well to them.” explained Rob.

‘Use the dynamic format to attract a new style of sponsor’

Traditionally, brands that sponsor cricket, particularly in the ‘Test Match’ format, have related to industries such as financial services and insurance. However, for a new dynamic brand like The Hundred, there was the unique opportunity to start with a “blank canvass” and reassess who might best align with The Hundred’s format and audience.

“What we found really quickly was that we were able to align our brand with other relevant products so FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) brands wanted to work with us,” explained Rob. From KP Snacks to Robinsons, The Hundred has been able to align with major names that took their cricket brand into new households across the country.

This was supported by The Hundred’s gamification strategy, which drives engagement while creating valuable new digital IP. Built by Genius Sports, the 20-Ball Predictor game, is played by hundreds of thousands of fans each season and includes inventory to activate The Hundred’s commercial partnerships, initially with headline sponsor Cazoo.

Overall, Rob sees these commercial wins as “testament to the success of the brand that we launched” providing a clear value exchange for a new type of cricket sponsor to engage a broader demographic.

Listen to the full episode. Subscribe to The Fan Engagement Podcast.

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