Jul 28, 2023 - Economy

Cricket's biggest moment in the U.S.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Cricket's latest push in the U.S. will be marked this weekend with a first-ever Major League Cricket championship match.

Why it matters: The nascent league is being funded by big names in tech and has launched amid a fierce battle for sports content rights.

Zoom in: Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, former Facebook and Dropbox executive Aditya Agarwal, Webex co-founder Subrah Iyar and real estate mogul Ross Perot Jr. are among the MLC's investors.

  • The league has raised $120 million to expand and build cricket stadiums and training centers — a clear statement that it's looking at the long game.

Zoom out: Often reported as the world's second-most followed sport, cricket is already commanding billions in global broadcast rights.

  • On a per-match basis, the Indian Premier League’s TV and digital deals now rank behind only the NFL, the NYT notes.

What they're saying: "This is the world's largest sporting market. This is a huge opportunity,” MLC investor Anurag Jain told Axios’ Naheed Rajwani-Dharsi last fall.

The intrigue: While previous attempts at professional cricket here have crashed and burned, MLC co-founders Sameer Mehta and Vijay Srinivasan believe this time could be different — sensing a "cosmopolitan turn" in the country's sports viewing tastes.

What to watch: The U.S. is home to at least 30 million cricket fans, double from about a decade ago, Axios’ Jeff Tracy has reported.

  • Along with the West Indies, the U.S. will co-host the 2024 T20 World Cup, a major cricket event that recently drew over 6 billion video views.

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