Good news for cricket fans: YouTube (s GOOG) is making the semifinal and final matches of this year’s Indian Premier League cricket tournament available live for all viewers, including those in the U.S. The IPL’s final four matches of the season, which begin on Wednesday and culminate with the championship match on April 25, will be streamed live on YouTube’s IPL channel at youtube.com/ipl.
As part of a multiyear agreement with the IPL that YouTube struck in January, the online video site has been streaming the entire season of IPL cricket matches live — for all markets except the U.S. If cricket fans here wanted to view the action live, they had to sign up for subscription-based online sports site Willow.tv and pay $60 to stream the games in real time.
Despite this, YouTube saw massive demand for on-demand viewing of the IPL matches in the U.S., as matches became available here 15 minutes after the live streams concluded. Even without the availability of live streams, the U.S. ranked second in the world (behind India) in terms of number of subscribers to the IPL channel, as well as rating, commenting on and favoriting videos. As a result of the enthusiasm by U.S. viewers, YouTube opened up the last four matches for viewing live.
The inaugural season of the IPL on YouTube — the video-sharing site’s first foray into streaming a sporting event live — appears to be a success. Over the first 55 matches of the IPL season, YouTube says it’s received more than 40 million views across the globe, and that’s before the beginning of the playoff matchups. With the availability of live streams in the U.S., we can expect plenty more viewers tuning in for the final four matchups. A schedule is available on the IPL web site here.
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