The propensity to consume digital content online has inclined tremendously, ESPNcricinfo, an online website dedicated to providing some of the most comprehensive, updated news on cricket have announced an expansion of digital video content strategy and they’ve just got on board Gaurav Kalra, a senior television journalist who has been a sports journalist for more than two decades. If you are a cricket fan, you’ve probably seen him interviewing some of the finest cricketers of this country including a personal favorite of mine, Sachin Tendulkar. Paul Writer got an exclusive one on one with the quick-witted one himself!
You’ve had a long run at CNN IBN, What is the one thing that struck you to join ESPNcricinfo?
Well, I have been a sports journalist since 1997 when I joined TWI. ESPNcricinfo is by far the biggest platform in Cricket that you can think of. I have worked in television all these years and with ESPNcricinfo moving towards doing a lot more video content, I thought it was the perfect fit for me. I have known Sambit Bal; editor-in-chief at ESPNcricinfo, for many years, whom I am reporting to here. I wanted to experiment with a much greater, much bigger cricket driven content role and the opportunity was the right fit so I thought I should give it a try.
ESPNcricinfo has got massive number of viewers online and has a strong huge digital presence. How important do you think it is for news channels or any channel for that matter to have a strong digital presence in a competitive world like today?
If you notice the way the world is consuming content now, it is very different to perhaps, the way it was consumed when I was growing up. There was the whole cable TV revolution and content was consumed on television. But Increasingly, people are now watching content on ipads, on computers, even on smart phones and that is because of the nature of our lives today. We are constantly on the go, we are on the lookout for quick information and it’s the way the world is evolving. There is no such thing as appointment viewing anymore, people don’t think ‘I will only watch a television program at this time’, so the digital space allows us to create content which can be consumed at any given time by our users, it is more flexible.
What are your plans for ESPNcricinfo?
There are a few basic objectives that ESPNcricinfo stands for and has always stood for. There is objectivity in journalism; there is a balance but no bias. Those are the values on which the platform has worked on all these years, and that is the reason it has the recognition that it does and the following that it does. We intend to carry that motto forward in doing video. The video will be fiercely independent, we’ve done that before and will continue to do so. By that I mean, we do not align or bias ourselves to a certain point of view. Journalist’s over here who’ve covered cricket for a while and who have a domain expertise may have a point of view and we will not be shy of presenting it but we will not be aligning to a certain point of view or be biased in those directions. That remains the central point of our work and we will continue to carry the formula and basic thought process for ESPNcricinfo. That doesn’t change whether we do written work or video
You are active on social media, you’re on Twitter and on Facebook, How important do you think the social platforms have been in engaging people in your content?
Twitter I can speak more clearly about. On twitter, the ESPNcricinfo handle has a huge following, you can go ahead and check I think it’s well over a million. It’s a good platform for us to put out our content and to create awareness. It is very important because a lot of the users who come on Cricinfo are social media users as well, they are on Twitter and they have their own Twitter handles so they will understand and will immediately be able to consume our content. The other factor is engagement, we put out a piece of video and we are able to get the feedback almost on an immediate basis, they immediately comment and say ‘ oh you said something else last week’ from that point of view twitter is very handy, it is a very good tool, its like a mirror, we are able to see how our content is being received and consumed
Do you have a memorable digital campaign?
I’ve only been here since the 1st of January so it’s literally just two months and we’ve done a fair bit of new programmes, one my favorite was doing the IPL auction live, we were live on the website for an extended period of time and we were able to present to our users live video content. People from another territory outside of India who weren’t able to watch the auction live on TV were able to watch the auction live online and we were able to live analyze it. We were live for about a good eight hours on both days of the auction, that was very rewarding and a very fulfilling experience.