ESPN backing West Indies cricket
BRIDGETOWN, BARBADOS - ESPN ARE believers after the West Indies’ sensational triumph at last October’s T20 World Championship in Sri Lanka.
The international sports network is broadcasting live coverage of the semi-finals and final of the West Indies Cricket Board’s (WICB) Super50 competition slated for Kensington Oval that will attract millions of viewers across its many networks.
Yesterday, ESPN’s general manager in the Caribbean, Bernard Stewart, who is here for an interactive, technology expo at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, said they were delighted to be part of the Caribbean cricket brand.
“Now that the West Indies owns the T20 World title speaks volumes for cricket in the Caribbean. I am now a believer and I think, it is going to get better,” he said.
“I don’t have any question that being part of cricket in the West Indies is good for us. It has given us an opportunity to connect in ways which I didn’t think we would have been able to do a couple of years ago.”
Stewart said for years he had a special place in his heart for the Caribbean.
“After I spent ten years in Asia and returned to the ESPN headquarters, we had to decide on what would be my next assignment.
“Given my experience, it had to be something strong and challenging. In looking at the options, the Caribbean came up. We realized how important it had become to our overall portfolio,” he said.
Stewart said that more than 70 million viewers in the United States will have access to the ESPN 3, a broadband service, that will beamed the regional limited overs semifinals.
“That’s 75 million people who have access to that broadband service, so it is not looked as a small opportunity, this is a major project for us,” he said.
“Almost all of the cricket that we have done is actually seen in the United States as well. To some extent some of our projects have shown up in the UK.”
T20 and One-Day Internationals may be the most glamorous forms of the game, but Stewart insists that ESPN will have no difficulty in televising a five-day Test match in the Caribbean.
“What we will wind up doing is finding the right opportunity to do that. We don’t have a reason not to. We have two networks and that gives us a lot of band width to be able to serve sports fans.
“If the answer is that we are not doing it because we think five-day cricket is too long, the answer is no. The answer is finding the right opportunity to give the right tour and once we are able to do that, and are able to negotiate from a rights point of view, we can cover a Test match,” he added.
Stewart said he was delighted to be in Barbados which he described as one of the most special places that you can find on the planet.
“All the talk about the hospitality and the welcome is all true. It is just nice to find a place that feels like home,” he said.
The semi-finals will bring together Trinidad and Tobago and Combined Campuses and Colleges tomorrow and Jamaica and Windward Islands the following the day. The winners will meet in the final on Sunday.
All matches are day/night contests, starting at 2:30 p.m.