It’s sleek, quick to load, and clutter-free. But, Yahoo Cricket could do with richer content, especially videos and game analysis.
Back in 2010, Yahoo Cricket was the most visited cricket site in India, according to comScore. It would get 2.5 to 3 million unique visits a month, which was massive at the time. By 2014, ESPN Cricinfo had become the numero uno cricket destination for fans, accounting for over 90 percent of all cricket traffic in the country.
Yahoo Cricket, of course, partly suffered because of Yahoo’s larger global troubles and its gradual decline from an internet powerhouse to a near-bygone. But as desktop traffic took a backseat and the era of apps dawned upon us, market dynamics started changing. There was an opportunity for reinvention.
A plethora of apps informing you of the minutiae of cricket events across the world, from international fixtures to local league games, flooded the internet universe. Yahoo Cricket, which was a standalone app by now, jostled for eyeballs along with ESPN Cricinfo (again), Cricbuzz (homegrown product backed by Times Internet), NDTV Cricket, CricHQ, official apps of the ICC and the BCCI, and umpteen others.
Yahoo loyalists perhaps stuck to Yahoo Cricket, but most had moved to the more popular, buzzier destinations on mobile. In 2015, Android Headlines looked at Yahoo Cricket and said, “It is not the most attractively designed app and does need a user interface (UI) overhaul.”
That overhaul happened last October after Yahoo Global found a new owner in Verizon earlier in the year. Yahoo Cricket is now run by Oath Inc — a subsidiary of Verizon. The app was relaunched with a fresh design and multiple new features. It was last updated this week.
YourStory spent some time with the new-look Yahoo Cricket app. Here are our observations.
If you prefer a simple, clutter-free interface with minimal colours, chances are you’ll like Yahoo Cricket’s new design. The first thing that strikes you about the app is its no-frills approach, unlike some other apps which are loaded with antics. Sometimes you wouldn’t know where to look and what to avoid.
Additionally, there are very few ads on Yahoo Cricket compared to Cricbuzz or Cricinfo. Pop-up ads can be quite an irritant especially if you are used to ad-free browsing, and also when you’re in a haste to read/view something on the app.
When you open Yahoo Cricket, 'Scores' is the landing page.
Yahoo Cricket loaded pretty fast on my Android device, definitely faster than ESPNCricinfo — that too has undergone a redesign lately — did. It managed to load faster than the official ICC app too, and was on par with Cricbuzz and NDTV Cricket.
It is not big on video content yet and that explains a part of the faster loading process. Yahoo, of course, sees this as its USP. “There is no other cricket app faster than Yahoo Cricket right now,” Shishir Bhate, Editor-in-Chief of Yahoo India told YourStory.
Most cricket apps typically offer match fixtures, live scores, ball-by-ball commentary, match summaries, general match info, select-your-favourite-team options, photos, videos, etc. Yahoo Cricket does the same, but falls a little short of its peers when it comes to photos and videos. Cricbuzz, Cricinfo and NDTV Cricket are big on video with separate tabs allocated to it.
But Yahoo Cricket possibly makes up for the dearth of videos with a few nifty features that also work as differentiators. One is the ‘Fan Shout’ section. It is a live poll that throws up questions based on match situations. You can select an option and get an immediate sense of how many “fans agree with you”. The app displays a quick chart with percentages. The poll questions keep changing as the match progresses.
The other feature that works well is ‘Moments You Missed’ which allows you to catch up on the most significant events of a match. It is similar to Twitter's 'While You Were Away' feature and you can de-select it in Settings. Some other apps call it the ‘Highlights’ section and have a separate tab, but in Yahoo Cricket, it automatically pops up when you select a particular match.
‘Ball in Play’ is another unique feature that allows you to view the bowler’s steps as he starts his run-up until he delivers the ball. This an engaging, visually-rich feature. While it may not excite the casual score-watchers, hardcore cricket enthusiasts could get a kick out of anticipating what will happen in the next ball.
Yahoo Cricket seems to be doing social media integration fairly well. Live tweets are pulled and fused within the in-progress match commentary, giving viewers a sense of community around them. So, if a wicket has fallen, while the ball-by-ball commentary will take stock of that, some user tweets will add emotion and perspective to the moment.
If you want more of video and less of text, Yahoo Cricket would disappoint. As the internet gets more skewed towards video, it is imperative for content providers to match up to the demand.
Market leaders, Cricbuzz and Cricinfo, have beefed up their video offerings. Cricbuzz received a huge fillip when they roped in Harsha Bhogle as the ‘Voice of Cricket’. CricketNDTV has a pretty comprehensive video section too. The ICC app, of course, is a destination of all official videos, including U-19 matches, event press conferences and more. Yahoo is yet to roll out videos.
In its ‘News’ section, Yahoo Cricket is aggregating and curating articles from other media sites, both Indian and international, while its peers are putting out original content in all shapes and sizes. Cricinfo runs on essays, opinions and commentaries by established names in the circuit, which fans seem to devour. Cricbuzz too writes its own stuff.
But, Yahoo is still dependent on other news portals. So, if you are looking for historical perspective and enriching analysis of the games, you wouldn’t be on Yahoo Cricket.
Cricket stats, player information, ground information, ICC rankings, etc., are some other things missing in Yahoo Cricket and that is keeping it from becoming a holistic cricket consumption experience.
The app has recorded 820,000 installs on Android and iOS put together. Pune, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Lucknow and Mumbai are leading traction. An average user session is 19 minutes, and the app has recorded a handsome 89.3 percent return visitors.
“We have some new features like Player Profiles and Stats coming up. But so far, the engagement level has exceeded our expectations. The ongoing India-South Africa series has recorded more visits than the last India-Sri Lanka series. The numbers are constantly rising,” Yahoo India’s Bhate told YourStory.