Cricket’s World Cup Was Huge For Mobile Media

The mobile is already the computer in many markets, it seems. In some of the countries where cricket is most popular, the recent ICC Cricket World Cup was consumed more on mobile than on PC internet.

ESPN (NYSE: DIS) says the mobile version of its ESPNcricinfo site accounted for 45 percent (45 million) of all the brand’s page views during the April 2 final, in which India beat Pakistan Sri Lanka. That’s the highest share of any of the digital media through which ESPN covered the sport, and doesn’t even include the app versions of ESPNcricinfo.

It’s significant that mobile use outweighed desktop use. ESPN claims ESPNcricinfo’s mobile site took 63.6 percent of the global mobile audience in its industry segment – far outweighing the 36.1 percent share ESPNcricinfo claims it took in the desktop web market.

That effect came from Indians, who supplied the largest slice of mobile traffic to ESPNcricinfo (377.3 million page views through the tournament). There are around 700 million mobile phones in use in India – nearly the entire population of 1.15 billion. Many of the handsets are unsophisticated, but broadcasters nevertheless supply subscription audio content. In neighbouring Pakistan, BBC Urdu offered five, two-minute World Cup audio reports every hour for on-demand listening by dial-up during the competition.

July Systems, an LA-based mobile web infrastructure vendor which was contracted by ESPN, SuperSport and other proprietors during the tournament, says it served 74 million mobile page views globally during the final game, over Amazon’s Web Services system.

But, though the region reflected starkly in ESPN’s stats during the tournament, the overall audience for ESPNcricinfo’s mobile site remains small in an all-media context, setting a March 30 record of 1.9 million visitors, compared with 6.5 million on desktop that same day.

The takeaway must be that mobile users kept generating page views by refreshing, but desktop still had more actual unique users.