Bottoms Up: Cricket & India’s Digital Economy; Bad Business?

Cricket is good business, although not for everyone. The game, India’s national obsession, is far more than a spectator sport. Rohit Sharma’s blitzkrieg on the field and Virat Kohli’s youthful antics are tactfully used by admen to fuel consumerism. The cola companies, makers of television sets, automobiles and junk food, burn through money to make more money.

For a few hours, though, when the nation is glued to television sets, everything comes to a standstill. Just like they show in the advertisements.

We haven’t come across any recent studies to buttress this argument. Back in 2005, a writer for Asia Times asked a few people about the approximate loss from “decreased productivity, wasted man-days and impact of cricket on India’s development.” He estimated a $30 bn loss (in 2005), taking into account a conservative 5% loss of working time as a result of cricket viewing. I’ve never found these back of the envelope calculations reliable. But there is some truth in it.

If you take into account all the hours that are wasted watching the game, it wouldn’t be surprising that net net, its a loss making proposition for everybody except a few.

India’s digital economy is no exception.

On November 2, when India played Australia, folks at popular recharge website Freecharge saw a significant drop in their traffic. It picked up after India finished batting. “When India bats, we experience lower recharge rates. Mind=blown!” the company wrote on its blog.

Here, see it for yourselves.

Source: Freecharge
Source: Freecharge

They don’t mean it in the wrong sense of course. Cricket is good business for them. The company has cracked a deal with Pepsi, which advertises heavily during cricket. But one can safely imply that the drop in traffic means that a large number of people have simply dropped everything else to watch cricket.

PS: I don’t hate sports and entertainment. In fact, entertainment these days is an absolute necessity. It is a welcome diversion from boring workplaces.

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