The ICC Cricket World Cup kicks off next week, with a warmup match between India and Australia scheduled for Sunday, February 13th and the tournament’s Opening Ceremony a few days later on February 16th. Cricket fans can tune in to all 49 matches, including the championship match streamed on April 2 from Mumbai, on Willow.tv for $129.
This year, Willow.tv subscribers will get an added bonus with new multiplatform video capabilities through which they can access live streams not just on PCs and laptops, but on a wide range of mobile devices and an increasing number of connected TVs and broadband set-top boxes.
Willow.tv is just the latest streaming sports firm to go with a multiplatform strategy, following major sports leagues in the U.S. like Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League in rolling out streaming services on mobile and connected devices. Like those sports, cricket has a rabid fan base; last year’s Indian Premier League streams on YouTube surpassed all expectations, with viewers watching more than 51 million streams during the 45-day tournament.
But unlike followers of the MLB, NBA and NHL, most cricket fans aren’t able to find the matches on cable TV. Willow.tv fills a void by providing high-definition streaming access to matches that viewers wouldn’t otherwise be able to find. And now, due to customer demand, Willow.tv has added video streaming on the iPhone, iPad, Blackberry and Android mobile devices. It is also now available on Roku and Boxee set-top boxes, Sony’s (s SNE) PlayStation 3 game console and Google (s GOOG) TV-powered devices from Sony and Logitech. (s LOGI) The firm is also hoping to have its streams available on Samsung connected TVs and Blu-ray players before the ICC World Cup matches begin.
Vijay Srinivasan, CEO of Willow.tv, said in a phone interview that the company’s goal is to enable its viewers to watch cricket matches on the device of their choosing, whether it be a PC, a mobile device or especially a connected TV. “People are used to watching video on the TV, and we’re looking to bridge that gap,” he said.
To get on all these platforms, Willow.tv has an in-house development team that has been creating apps for various connected devices. For now, Willow.tv is devoted primarily to extending its own platform to different devices, although Srinivasan said the company has already been contacted by some third parties to use its back end and app expertise for their own live streams. While it has no plans to do so right now, Srinivasan said it could white label and outsourcing those services to other companies that do live streaming.
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