ESPN catches cricket Web site

Cricinfo launched 14 years ago

LONDON — Disney-owned sports web ESPN has bought top sports Web site, Cricinfo, a must for cricket lovers the world over.

The acquisition, for an undisclosed sum from U.K. publishers The Wisden Group, is an important move for ESPN.

Cricinfo, one of the Web’s pioneering sites when it was launched 14 years ago, is reckoned to receive seven million unique users a month globally.

The site joins other ESPN Web sites, including ESPN.com. Spanish language service ESPNdeportes.com, and ESPNsoccernet.com, a key destination for fans of English soccer.

To non-convert, the game’s often slow progress — so-called Test matches last for several days — and relative complexity makes it appear long-winded and devoid of the thrills common to other team sports.

But cricket fans are passionate about the sport in large sections of the English-speaking world, notably in Blighty, Oz, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and most of the Caribbean.

Arguably cricket lends itself well to Web coverage: the length of the contests and the statistics-rich nature of the game help to drive users and build up loyalty.

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