When we think about the global popularity of cricket, it’s clear that, like football, it doesn’t necessarily need growth in the U.S. market. It’s one of the world’s most beloved sports, and while the U.S. market is sizable and, when engaged, quite active, cricket has gotten as big as it has with relatively little interest from the Americans.
Furthermore, it’s highly unlikely that cricket will ever become a major U.S. sport anyway. According to a recent analysis based on television ratings, it doesn’t register in the top 10, and sports we might consider to be obscure, such as badminton, wrestling, and martial arts, are ahead of it. For cricket to not only make it onto this list but into the higher levels of it (alongside sports like American football, baseball, and basketball) would take something of a miracle.
With this said though, it’s absolutely possible for cricket to attain more modest growth in the U.S., such that it gains some attention without necessarily becoming a “major” sport. In fact, there are some factors at hand that may even make this likely:
- Rapid Growth – Going by a report from just a few years back, cricket is a sport attracting a lot of attention in the U.S. as a rapid grower. The USA Cricket organization has gotten on its feet over the course of the current decade, and the sport is being introduced slowly but surely to youth. It’s also taken hold on college campuses, which are actually where rugby has gained a small but not insignificant U.S. foothold.
- Betting Expansion – Betting may very well move from being a total non-factor to being a phenomenon in the United States. Court rulings in 2018 allowed states to start legalizing sports betting, and many are already working on doing so. Consider also that the very nature of digital gambling has changed in recent years, with mobile options allowing us to place bets from any place at any time, and Americans are likely about to gain broad, convenient access to sports betting. This opens up a new avenue through which people may gain interest in international cricket, even if they aren’t accustomed to following the sport.
- Streaming Options – As for getting accustomed to following the sport, there’s no avoiding the simple fact that cricket has never been on television much in the U.S. An American may find a major event on very occasionally, or else find cricket on a premium channel he has to go out of his way to get. But it’s not as if it’s simply on television regularly. Now though, thanks to improving sports streaming options, cricket is actually accessible for viewing. In particular, ESPN’s relatively new “ESPN+” service has already made a habit of not just showing, but advertising cricket.
These points add up quite nicely for cricket’s potential in the U.S. A growing cricket organization, the chance for Americans to take a betting interest, and more streaming should ultimately result in more attention for the sport. So, while cricket doesn’t need the U.S., it may move into the country more than some expect.
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