For the last nine years, till June, Jay Motwani was working for Microsoft India. He was looking after sales and marketing for the enterprise business and was given the telecom, media and entertainment verticals to handle. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) was one of his clients and together they were hoping to provide the next generation of technological infrastructure for cricket in India.
Winning debut: Jay Motwani wants to stream all cricket matches on the Net. Abhijit Bhatlekar / Mint
While working with BCCI as an employee of Microsoft, Motwani realized that the potential for pitching new media such as the Internet, and expanding the base of cricket viewers, was very high. “But the BCCI is run by part-timers and people who do not really understand the new ways of accessing and watching cricket. So, though they agreed in concept that streaming cricket matches through the Internet was an option, they did not understand how to go about it. So they did it their way—by floating a tender and setting a huge minimum guarantee of $50 million,” he says. Sure enough, no one bid for it. Eventually, Microsoft realized that the BCCI account was not yielding much in terms of revenue and decided to withdraw from it. Motwani had been considering striking out on his own and he decided to take the idea and run with it.
With the BCCI experience behind him, Motwani set up his company, Techshot, and decided to look at the possibility of working with a smaller cricket board. Around this time, after the success of the Indian Premier League, the Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA) announced its own Twenty20 league, the Karnataka Premier League. Udaya TV won the television rights for the matches and Motwani decided to approach the board for the Internet rights. He made his proposal and they were willing to give it a shot. Motwani built the website within 10 days and fine-tuned it over the next 15 days. The site www.mantrikpl.com was up and streaming by the time the tournament started on 9 September. The cost of making the website was borne entirely by him.
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Motwani says users from 26 countries accessed the site. While these are likely to have been Indians, it is a significant indicator to him that the future of cricket viewing has to go beyond television to the Internet. Also, advertisers have begun to approach him for the next season. They understand its potential, he says. He plans to make a case study of the first experience and approach other cricket organizers.
The agreement between KSCA and Motwani is a revenue-sharing one. From next season, when he starts getting advertisers, he will have to share his earnings with the association.
Motwani runs an online technical helpdesk business and is looking at various options in sports and media for Techshot.
“The secret is in being the first to implement. It is not that nobody had ever thought of streaming cricket matches on the Internet, but nobody really had gone ahead and implemented it,” he says.