Exclusive: Marc Hayward's CricFan winning India with fan-first content

London-based media entrepreneur Marc Hayward's CricFan has already established a large fan base in India and looking to revolutionise cricket with fan-first content.

Koushik Biswas
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Cricket in India is a religion. The reason behind that is not only the superstars we had over the years in India but also because, we, the fans of the game started worshipping some of them. But, somehow, the fans were never made part of the game rather than just getting some occasional screen time on the television during a game at a stadium. But, London-based media entrepreneur Marc Hayward is looking to change all of that with CricFan.

CricFan, the brainchild of Marc aims to bring fans to the fastest-growing sport in the world, cricket. As Indian cricket fans get ready to support their team for the upcoming T20 World Cup 2024, we sat down with Marc for an exclusive interview to learn more about CricFan and his vision to create a fan culture in cricket.

"Fans have been the flag bearers of the sport"

‘Queens of Cricket’ show by CricFan -
A snippet of the ‘Queens of Cricket’ show.

CricFan started just before the ICC World Cup 2023 and has emerged as one of India's biggest cricket digital content platforms. They have already developed three TV format shows named - ‘FanzoneTV,’ ‘Cricket Chirps,’ and ‘Queens of Cricket’, the latter focusing on Women's cricket only.

Fanzone TV looks to create an ecosystem where brands can discuss and debate in a friendly but firm manner, bringing cricket to a wider audience. Meanwhile, Cricket Chirps brings fans' conversation from social media to mainstream TV shows.

"So, CricFan started just before the World Cup last year. We created a social media presence and we wanted to create a brand which basically was built upon the foundations of the fans because the fans have been the flag bearers of the sport," Marc told Sportz Point.

"I am not talking about the influencer fans but you know the common fan from grassroots to the pros. I would say that nothing compared to the Indian fans in cricket and we saw the fan culture here (to make this happen)," Marc added.

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Why does India need CricFan?

But, first, why did a London-based media entrepreneur think a country like India needed CricFan? Well, as per Marc, most of the Indian cricket shows are mostly stats-based and analytical, which is very good on their own, and helps the fans understand the game better, the shows did not have the fans' perspective and needed to bring the biggest pillar of the sports business, the fans, to the game.

"Well, stats-driven content is interesting and it drives a lot of things like fantasy and things like that we felt that you know that cricket entertainment could be more of a family entertainment thing as well. So, we started to build formats like fans on TV," Marc expressed.

"We started to have things like Cricket Chirps which was taken from the conversation on social media. And I think something which was extremely if not the most proud of is Queens of Cricket which was one of the female-first formats to be developed. Jio Cinema and Sports18 were very much behind it also."

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CricWin is building a sports community 

Marc and his team in India, which is currently nearly in every major city in India, are now building CricWin, which is powered by CricFan. With CricWin they are creating a platform to give the fans some special gifts like an MS Dhoni signed cricket ball to build more engagement on social media.

"I think anything that builds community, is a good thing. We just launched CricWin, which is heavily powered by CricFan. It gives people the opportunity to register for free and place a bet. So, we have winners each week. We give away things like signed memorabilia and cricket equipment."

"We run different promotions week to week but the idea is to become a very trusted and secure site where people can come and register and win prizes for free."

The fan-culture, content creators and cricket 

CricFanTV | LinkedIn
A snippet of the CricFan's show with two of India's cricket digital creators.

Marc firmly believes that the Indian culture is slowly becoming global and very soon India will be the hub for digital content and sports entertainment business. That is why Marc and his team emphasise creating the community and the fan culture which can take advantage of a digital-first country India is becoming with internet and mobile phones in nearly every corner of the nation.

Marc feels that with CircFan, there will be more opportunities for digital content creators in India and more talented creators will get a platform to showcase their talent and obviously, make a career out of that. 

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"Don't really want to eliminate any competition"

But, with the boom of digital content on platforms like Instagram and YouTube, there is competition growing for CricFan every minute. However, Marc is not bothered about that. In fact, he wants more and more companies or creators to evolve and create a larger community which can eventually create the fan culture he always wanted to see in a cricket-mad country like India.

"I don't really want to eliminate any competition. I wanna create an ecosystem where we create this huge fan culture and work together and partner to create a bigger audience together. The way I would approach this is, are they competitors or do they add to the ecosystem we are trying to build?"

Now, with everything going great for them, Marc has a few more ideas in his head to launch in India. Although it is still in the ideation stage, Marc wants to build an interactive quiz show for the fans, which will make the fans feel part of the cricket culture.

Sportz Point Speaks