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IPL Cricket's Online Video Offering Is An Epic Fail

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ipl-logoYesterday, I wrote about Indian Premier League’s Twenty20 Cricket tournament for NewTeeVee. The big news was that the Indian professional cricket league championship (now in its second year) would be using Microsoft’s (s MSFT) Silverlight multimedia technology. Given the wild popularity of this ultra short-form of the sport, it was a good comeback for Microsoft, which was unceremoniously dropped by in favor of the incumbent Adobe Flash. Well, as luck would have it, the Microsoft-IPL partnership got off to a disastrous start.

The IPL’s official web site has been on the blink for more than 30 hours. When I tweeted about that, many of my followers expressed the same frustration at not being able to access the web site, which was giving 503 error messages. Others complained that the tournament wasn’t available for viewing in North America. With day two of the tournament around the corner, no one has any idea when the site is actually going to actually be accessible.

When I reached out to Microsoft, they said that there have been outages at the back end and are unrelated to Silverlight. A Microsoft spokesperson said that you could access a player with limited functionality. So far, I have been unable to make it work.

Instead, I have turned to the trusted and more reliable for the game broadcasts. Sure, I have to use VMWare Fusion to run Windows XP in order to watch the games — but at least it works.

I think the online idea snafu is a big slap in the face for IPL. By not devoting more resources to its online video offering, IPL has missed out on an opportunity to make more money. I am sure if they had asked people to pay for the broadcasts, many fans, especially in North America could have forked over cash. Maybe they should visit the offices in New York and get a first-hand lesson in making money from online video.

51 Responses to “IPL Cricket's Online Video Offering Is An Epic Fail”

  1. Looks like the IPL site is now streaming live matches online, for free.
    You can download the Microsoft Silverlight player for free here, and then catch all of the IPL matches for the rest of the season! Watching the Daredevils/Knight Riders match right now!

    • Sushanth

      Avoid for the ICC world cup 2009. Poor quality streams and repeated mails to tech support doesnt help either. They talk about some upgrade being done which doesnt reflect in the quality. Waste of money!

  2. They even promised mobile video streaming for the IPL games. But the company that has the rights to it – ZengaTV – has not pushed it out
    as yet although it is several days into the IPL season. Not sure if
    they ran into a snag with the Indian operators with streaming video.
    The other problem may be that streaming may not work well with a 2G network.

  3. Kiran Bhanushali

    There is another league called the ICL, Indian cricket league. I remember a year back during their tournament they had used silverlight to show live games and it worked like a charm, they were showing the games for free and without any ads.

  4. Vasudha

    I was able to see the Kings Eleven Match against Delhi that day without using silver light
    However after that the links got broken, also nobody is i guess looking into it!!!
    Even today matches were not available

  5. Microsoft is right, a 503 error indicates that the service is not available. Since Silverlight runs on the client’s computer this issue can’t be Silverlight related.

  6. Ronaldo

    MLB hasn’t gotten off to the best start this year. They might know how to make money, but their clients sure aren’t satisfied. They even locked the forums and removed user complaints this year after an equally terrible launch with Flash and a HD plug-in. Have a look at the forums.

  7. om —

    Sorry you’re having problems watching cricket. Have to say Silverlight performed very well for me during March Madness, even during peak times when I was have problems with other methods of viewing. So many different things can go wrong during these events …

  8. Seems to be not the only streaming problem. Since start of the playoffs the “NBA International League Pass” (working with RayV-Technology) has to battle several technical difficulties. The server is often unavailable or takes 10min to load the homepage ( Streams (especially the HD-streams) aren’t working or stuttering. Subscriber receiving instead the information, that their subscription is expired. Looking through Blogs and Twitter, seems to be roundabout 60% of people have problems with the ILP.

    Guess what: the league pass is for some european countries (eg. Germany and I think UK) the only legal way to get grip of the playoffs, due to the lack of TV-coverage. And the NBA is fumbling this.

  9. Cricket Fan

    Now there is a business opportunity. A company that creates streaming / destination sites for major Cricket tournaments. The different cricketing boards (or the ICC) can just partner with this company to create custom properties with well thought out monetization strategies. Rev share with the ICC or the concerned board.

    And yes, Willow needs a competitor. They are ridiculously overpriced. DirecTV does not really care as much for cricket as a mainstream product/ revenue stream so they are never going to have the incentive to lower their prices and expand the market.

    Any angels looking for a place to put some money in?

  10. Just tried to view a video, wanted me to sign up, which I did. They asked for way too much personal info, but finally managed to create an account, and then told I was in the wrong region (England) to watch the video. Why couldn’t they have told me that before the registration process? And I can’t even delete my account.

    Probably one of the worst customer expeirences of video on the web I’ve seen.

  11. Hey all: On a similar yet different note, does anyone know why DirecTV doesn’t show ads during the matches? The quality is great (much better than any internet streaming site), but still pricey. They could easily add advertisements and pass the cost (and most likely make more money) to sponsors. There is a huge marked in the US, I just don’t understand why they don’t capitalize on it.

  12. “I think the online idea snafu is a big slap in the face for IPL. By not devoting more resources on their online video offering, IPL has missed out an opportunity to not only make more money. I am sure if they had asked people to pay for the broadcasts, many fans, especially in North America could have forked over cash”

    very well said,
    Hey BCCI , sign me up , I can either support the funding or watch them by paying the legal price.

    Morons at BCCI knows only one cow to milk, the TV rights cow.
    They have to understand that there are other type of demographic that watches cricket in North America.
    About a total of half million immigrants in the last ten plus years on H1B, half of them watch or follow cricket.

    Go figure the numbers.

    With the economy downturn, I do not expect IPL to rake in profits like it did last year.

  13. Om: It might be down to the way the rights have been sliced up and sold according to type and geography. From what I remember, has rights for North America, while NetLinkBlue has live streaming and mobile rights for India, Pakistan and Middle East. The official portal rights were also sold separately to Live Current Media.

    Live Current Media and NetLinkBlue have combined the rights they had bought separately, into a new venture called Global Cricket Ventures.

  14. Cricket Fan

    No surprize that the Indian media companies have yet to figure out a way to monetize any content whatsoever, let along video content. The IPL is probably no different.

    As far as Willow is concerned, that’s just robbery in broad day light. Yes, I understand capitalism, but still… There are more people watching cricket streams on some cheap stolen stream than on Willow. Someone needs to hammer basic pricing strategy in to their heads.

    End of rant.

    • Totally Agree,
      About six years back I even exchanged email communication with the then CEO of
      They were expecting the subscriptions numbers to go high , which automagically decrease the price.
      I am not sure about the subscription numbers , but the prices are still high.

      I was a loyal supporter for sometime and paid the full price. Now I switched to many of these cheap paid sites. Thank you willow, and thank you BCCI, while I like the entertainment , I wish you a total fiscal failure.

  15. Om, this may be down to how the IPL rights have been sliced up and sold. has rights to North America (which is one of the reasons why BIG bought 75 pc stake in the co).

    AFAIK, NetLinkBlue holdings has the rights to live streaming in India, Middle East and Pakistan, while Live Current Media had rights to the official portal. So…both of these entities combined their rights in a JV called Global Cricket Ventures —

    There’s been massive confusion in India over the mobile rights as well, though things are clearer now.

  16. I try to avoid Microsoft-based technologies as best as possible. Unfortunately living in China all apps are designed for IE with no support for other browers, so my morals have had to change. The sooner that people use only compliant browers the sooner things may improve for me, as a designer.