With Criclytics, we hope users will interact more with data: Deepak Gullapalli

Deepak Gullapalli, Founder & CEO, Head Digital Works, shares insights on new strategies conceptualized for Cricket.com this IPL and how the playbook for digital players has changed post COVID

e4m by Noel Dsouza
Published: Sep 22, 2020 8:59 AM  | 4 min read
Deepak Gullapalli

The highly anticipated sporting event of the year finally graced our screens on September 19 as Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings kicked off IPL 2020. This year, the extravaganza will have some hidden easter eggs for cricket fanatics on Cricket.com with Criclytics. Criclytics is an advanced algorithm-based data analytics platform created by Head Digital Works which operates Cricket.com.

With the new data analytics platform, Cricket.com, which has about 3 million users, will be able to change the conversation from ‘what is the score’ to ‘what will be the score’. It will have features such as 'Tournament Level Engines' and 'Match Level Engines'. The sports app will also offer a plethora of features like watching the match in five visual images similar to Instagram Stories, get quick bytes on live text commentary, and a visual representation of where a boundary shot was played and where it went on the ground.

To keep the sporting momentum alive, Cricket.com also recently launched ‘The Ever-Changing Game’ campaign showcasing the ever-evolving nature of the sport. The campaign showcases an AV that exhibits India’s passion for the game and how has the sport been part of our lives, right from gully cricket in childhood to T20 leagues in the adulthood and beyond.
e4m spoke to Deepak Gullapalli, Founder, CEO, Head Digital Works, on their strategies for Cricket.com this IPL season, the change in consumer patterns due to COVID, how that will amplify engagement on the sports platform, and how the playbook has changed for the digital ecosystem.

Excerpts from th conversation

How has Head Digital Works revived the strategies for Cricket.com this IPL season to draw in more users?

We have a host of both new and improved offerings this time around. Our AI tool Criclytics is a lot more advanced and has made good progress in improving its prediction accuracy. The fantasy research centre (powered by Criclytics) offers an interesting avenue for fantasy sports fans to pick their teams. We have even roped in legend Gautam Gambhir for this IPL to be a part of the fantasy research centre where he will give views on his XI against the machine-generated XI. We are also coming up with new content formats on both video and written pieces and have some exciting writers/columnists lined up for the IPL.

What are Head Digital Works' overall plans for this IPL season?

We have two major campaigns running for both cricket.com and Fanfight through the IPL. Our focus will be to build up our user bases on these platforms while continuing to grow our core rummy business - A23.

What impact are you expecting from Criclytics?

We are hoping users will appreciate and interact more with data and try to look beyond just the score. Fingers crossed!

How has the engagement on Cricket.com been this IPL season?

So far, pre-IPL numbers have been improving and traffic is building up to close to 1,00,000 users a day. A lot of this still depends on day-to-day cricketing action.

Do you expect a change in consumer patterns due to COVID, and how will that help in drive growth this IPL?

Staying at home more would mean more people will watch. The fact that India has been starved of cricket for a while will also see a burst in viewership. Unlike other sports, it will be interesting to see how India reacts to empty stadiums/fake audience sounds for the IPL as it is usually a festive event.

What kind of growth are you expecting for Digital Works' fantasy gaming app Fanfight during this IPL season?

We are hoping to pick up more momentum and traction in a crowded space. While there was a loss in the user base for all fantasy operators during the suspension of the sports season, we are seeing a gradual revival in business and are confident to build up our DFS user base to over 5M again by this IPL.

How has the playbook changed for digital players due COVID?

There are more digitally enabled users, but with so much competition. It is harder to retain users on a single platform. Revenues per user are also linked to the state of the economy/employment status etc, and there has been a correction in consumer spending behaviour even on gaming platforms.

What are your future plans for Head Digital Works?

To continue building on our existing businesses, and improve footprints & revenue generation capabilities.

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