Home News SRK’s T20 franchise invests in American cricket’s future | Cricket News

SRK’s T20 franchise invests in American cricket’s future | Cricket News

MUMBAI: For a long time, Bollywood has been one of India’s big cultural and commercial exports to the US. Now one of its biggest stars has decided to invest in what promises to be a bigger entertainment and business opportunity in America.
Shah Rukh Khan, the co-owner of Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) franchise in the IPL, has completed a major long-term investment in US cricket in partnership with American Cricket Enterprises (ACE).
The partnership between ACE and the KKR will include financial investments and expertise to help ACE develop and launch Major Cricket League in the US.
The investment is being led by Khan, along with his partners in the Knight Riders franchise — Juhi Chawla and her husband Jay Mehta. Sources say the Knight Riders is also likely to own and run the Los Angeles franchise, a city that plays host to legendary clubs like the LA Lakers (basketball) and the LA Galaxy (soccer).
“For several years now, we have been expanding the Knight Riders brand globally and closely watching the potential for T20 cricket in the US. We are convinced that Major League Cricket has all the pieces in place to execute its plans and we look forward to making our partnership an enormous success in the coming years,” Khan said in a statement.
Major League Cricket will deliver the US’s first professional T20 league featuring top international players from the host country and around the world. The focus, ACE says, will be on developing a homegrown player-pool for the US and the league. The league’s inaugural season will be in 2022.
The Kolkata Knight Riders also own Trinbago Knight Riders (TKR) in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL), a franchise it bought in 2015. Between 2008 and now, KKR have won the IPL twice (2012 & 14) and the CPL four times in six editions so far.
KKR and Red Chillies Entertainment CEO Venky Mysore said, “We have had a keen interest in the US and our expansion is consistent with our long-term strategy. We look forward to the new challenge of building cricket in the world’s most sophisticated sports & media market,” says Mysore.
Vijay Srinivasan, the co-founder at ACE and Major League Cricket, said: “There is a passionate following for cricket right across the US”, underlining New York, New Jersey, LA, Florida, Atlanta, Texas, Chicago, the Bay Area, Seattle among the hotbeds of the sport.
“We have granular data on the audiences, which has helped guide our plans for the key markets. Our research indicates there are 15-20 million fans with over four million regular viewers for cricket broadcasts on our partner Willow TV. This audience is complemented by over 150,000 regular players in leagues and conferences across,” Srinivasan said.
“The US is now the third or fourth largest market for cricket media rights, anchored by large communities with backgrounds from the Indian sub-continent, the Caribbean, and other major cricket playing countries,” he added.
Mysore believes the diaspora in the US has been “huge consumer of cricket content” and will work towards ensuring that the T20 format catches the imagination of American public. “The economics of the league and franchise is bound to be healthy given the size of the media market and the appetite of global brands to advertise on the T20 platform. The city councils and their support for development of cricket infrastructure will ensure that world class stadiums will be up and running fairly quickly,” he said.
Srinivasan believes there are a number of factors that have given him and his team the confidence that the timing is right for cricket to truly establish its hold in America. “The readmission of a National Governing Body for the sport, the newly formed USA Cricket, as a member of the ICC in 2017 was critical. Since then the progress has been significant. In May 2019 ACE was chosen as the exclusive strategic partner for USA Cricket for the development of a world-class professional T20 cricket league in the US,” he says.
The league has leading experts on board and is working towards its plans to feature six teams from major metropolitan regions across the United States. “As we finalise venues, we will make further announcements. The first Minor League Cricket season in 2021 will be a major stepping stone towards the launch and we are very excited to be able to deliver the first edition of a national T20 competition,” Srinivasan said.