Pete Russell

‘RECORD VIEWERSHIP’: Pete Russell, chief operating officer, CPL.

The Hero Caribbean Premier League T20 was in high demand in 2020 with over half of a billion fans following the tournament on TV, streaming and digital media and the tournament’s chief operating officer Pete Russell is hopeful that those numbers can be maintained or even be surpassed come 2021.

According to CPL, the tournament saw an incredible 67 per cent increase in Television, Streaming and Digital viewership in 2020, reaching 523.5million viewers and passing half a billion for the first time in the tournament’s history.

The research was independently compiled by YouGov Sport, a division of SMGInsight, one of the world’s largest and most respected research firms.

“The continued growth of CPL every year is hugely significant for the tournament and the region. Every year the CPL showcases the Caribbean in the best possible light and we very pleased that more people than ever are focusing on our tournament and the region,” Russell told the Express yesterday.

He is also keenly aware that 2021 will have a lot more competition for viewership but is confident in the CPL will continue to attract fans globally.

“We have learned that even with fans unable to attend games the appetite for the CPL is as strong as ever. Our innovative digital channels played a massive part in fans feeling close to the action and we want to ensure that we continue to innovate and improve in that area even if we return to a regular CPL season in terms of crowds and venues,” said Russell.

“We are always looking for year on year growth, but we understand that won’t always be possible. We are very lucky with the window that we have carved out for CPL in partnership with Cricket West Indies and we know that there is space for our tournament, but there undoubtedly will be more cricket in 2021 than this year. That said we are confident that we can get somewhere close to this year’s viewership numbers and perhaps even go past them,” he added.

Although they are hoping to return to some level of normalcy in the 2021, Russell said they were looking at various scenarios and is confident that of hosting another successful tournament next year.

The 2020 Hero CPL was the first franchise T20 tournament to take place since the lockdown and travel restrictions resulting from Covid-19, with all 33 matches played in a secure bubble at two venues in Trinidad and Tobago.

“We are looking at a number of scenarios for the tournament next year and with the good news recently about vaccines we are hopeful that we can return to some sort of normality at CPL in 2021 with a number of venues and our wonderful fans back in the stadiums,” Russell explained.

“But we showed during this year’s tournament that we can pull off CPL even during the most difficult of circumstances and we will do this again as needed,” he added.

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