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They don’t know cricket, but know their business

The Live Current Media group bags a $50 mn contract to host the IPL’s online content, reports Harbaksh Singh Nanda.

cricket Updated: Apr 19, 2008 02:43 IST
Harbaksh Singh Nanda

Geoffrey Hampson doesn’t know much of the rules of cricket. But, as the CEO of the Vancouver-based Live Current Media group, he pulled off a major coup by upstaging many mainstream media companies and bagging a $50 million (Rs 200 crore) contract to host the IPL’s online content.

“I don’t understand the sport completely but I do have some good tutors,” the 50-year old Hampson said on a lighter note when asked how he got interested in his company's biggest ever single deal.

“I’m picking up the basics of the game and have some people of Indian descent in the company to help me understand the nuances,” he told the Hindustan Times in a phone interview. Until Thursday, the 22-employee company was unknown in India. It was quite a surprise when the IPL and the LCM announced they had inked a 10-year-deal on online content.

The LCM will manage and run two websites to generate revenue, IPLT20.com and BCCI.tv. The IPLT20.com was launched on Friday.

According to the LCM, now fans from around the world can have complete access to the 44-day long season. The site offers access to official league content including audio-visual content, photographs, live scoreboards and summaries, match results, Fantasy Cricket, player interviews, profiles, schedules, statistics, ticketing and fan interaction through polls, contests and newsletters.

As per the terms of the deal, LCM will make a guaranteed payment of $5m a year — $3m for the BCCI and a separate $2m for the IPL — for the online rights. After that, revenue will be shared between the partners based on advertising, sponsorship and merchandise sales through the two websites.

It will be a social networking site revolving around the cricket sport. It would also have a fantasy cricket application for Facebook. The video footage and pictures of the IPL fixtures will be for sale on the website, however no live streaming of games will be offered.

Hampson said that the big numbers of $5 million a year made business sense. “We are very confident of the commerce part of the deal.” He added that there was a tough bidding process involved in clinching the deal but LCM's ownership of cricket.com definitely played a positive role. The LCM thrives on its assets — some of the most sought after web addresses online. The company owns about 800 web addresses, of which 30 are premium names, including cricket.com, boxing.com, karate.com, brazil.com, indonesia.com, greatbritain.com, malaysia.com, vietnam.com, body.com, number.com, leisure.com, call.com, electronic.com and one of the largest e-commerce sites, called perfume.com, which alone generates $10 million revenue a year.

Hampson said that the LCM's major focus is “building destination hubs for passionate people. When we were expanding our horizons, the passion in India about cricket led us to the country. It was at a time IPL was shaping up. We approached them and the rest is history.”

This is the company's first foray into the Indian market and it hopes to bring the North American model of e-commerce — by which online shoppers pay a premium to buy memorabilia and autographed items through a licensed vendor, to India.

HT interviews the man who bought website rights