Parallel Commentary

The IPL-Twitter experience is all set to evolve with the advent of new technologies. Hence, it is very critical for IPL to ensure that it is listening to our tweets.

During IPL-6, Twitter played a major role in spreading personalised tweets to others around the world watching the event, thereby creating a new channel of short, witty and passionate commentary.

It has become fashionable for viewers to tweet about a cricket match rather than scream their opinions while watching the action on television. Twitter has revolutionised the way viewers engage with cricket. One striking example is M. S. Dhoni’s tweet about Chris Gayle’s unbeaten 175: “Life is all about taking the right decision, seeing Gayle bat today I think I took the right decision of being a wicketkeeper,” posted the Indian captain on his page. It went viral, triggering numerous conversations and becoming the most (10,000+) retweeted tweet in IPL-6.

To understand better the complementary experiences created by Twitter, we look at the collection of IPL-related tweets via Twitter APIs, which provides low latency to Twitter’s global stream. The result — an archive of 6.7 million tweets from one million users over a period of two months.

What does the data look like? Around 100K tweets were geo-tagged and when they were plotted on a canvas the display was the map in Fig. 3, a stunning proof of IPL’s reach. Each dot represents a tweet.

When were they active? In other words, which match generated the most tweets? To arrive at the answer, a heat map was plotted with the home team in the X-axis, away team in the Y-axis and the data point as the total number of IPL-related tweets generated during that particular match. The result was obvious: the final generated the maximum (153K) number of tweets.

But the disparity in interest is clearly visible. The tweets-per-match, when popular teams square up, is high compared to a match involving a less-than-stellar team unless miracles happen — like Gayle’s 175 not out (RCB vs. PWI), David Miller’s 101 not out (KXIP vs. RCB) or a Super Over (SRH vs. RCB).

There were no real sparks in the campaigns of RR and SRH during the league phase and hence it is hardly surprising that they didn’t attract tweets during the eliminators. But there were others (MI, CSK and RCB) who dominated Twitter especially in their home matches.

Hashtag battles, polls and Q&A have greatly enriched the IPL. It’s great to have your tweet read by Harsha Bhogle on TV, but what about the others? The next step for IPL broadcasters would be to reflect the Twitter experiences back to the viewers. Here are some suggestions.

Twitter Commentary App

Create an application which aggregates interesting IPL tweets from teams, players, friends or fellow fans based on the user’s preference or popularity index. The idea is to ensure that interesting IPL commentaries gain additional visibility and are categorised before fading out. The app can also provide insights about tending topics and act as a tool to get multiple perspectives about an event from different credible sources.

Video Tweets

Partner with Twitter to create short video tweets of epic cricketing moments to deliver spontaneous and timely contents. Who wouldn’t have loved to watch Gilly perform Gangnam Style?

Hashtag waves

Trending hashtags are the new Mexican waves. Encourage players and commentators to discuss hashtags and provide real-time insights (tweets per minute, most retweets, et.al) to strengthen the waves.

Feedback tool

Use Twitter as a feedback tool to measure the quality of IPL broadcasting strategies.

Business opportunities

The consolidation of fans across the Twitter universe will result in IPL reaching out to new audiences and opening new business lines. Brands will be able to engage with viewers on specific game conversation or they could measure the impact of their latest TV adverts.

The IPL-Twitter experience is all set to evolve with the advent of new technologies. Hence, it is very critical for IPL to ensure that it is listening to our tweets.

M. Vivekanandan