The schedule should aim to maximise jeopardy as the group-stage reaches its climax, meaning matches that directly impact which teams finish in the top 4 (and reach the semi finals) should occur in the final few rounds of fixtures – to maximise excitement and drama.
TFG deploys simulations to infer a match jeopardy score by determining the swing in probability of the two participating teams making the semi-finals, depending on the result. Ideally, fixtures with the biggest swings would occur towards the end of the group-stage – hence these rounds are weighted as more valuable in our calculation. Our schedule optimiser is able to pick the configuration of matches which maximises this weighted score.
We assess the CWC23 schedule to have an optimisation score of 60% – meaning it’s not bad but certainly could have been improved. A number of key match-ups occur very early on during the group-stage, whereby the pressure and significance of the tie is not as heightened as if it had taken place later on closer to the climax of the group-stage. This reduced jeopardy has potentially been the cause of disappointingly low attendances in some of the early fixtures.
Another challenge facing the schedule is staging matches during times which are more suitable for the home fans of the participating nations. Given the vast range of time differences for teams involved, relative to India, it’s not always possible to fully accommodate viewers.
This tournament has taken a fairly rigid approach by starting almost all matches at 14.00 local time, with only 6 fixtures starting at a different time (all at 10.30). This approach makes sense for consistency reasons by securing a regular time-slot (‘appointment to view’). However, if the start times for matches were more flexible, between a window of 10.00 to 15.00 local time – this would enable an increase of almost 10% in watching hours between 7am and 11pm for fans at home in playing teams
A tournament’s schedule can be critical to ensuring the sporting product it delivers maximises performance levels, excitement, tension and, ultimately, its legacy.
Whilst the 2019 Cricket World Cup is synonymous with its dramatic finale, courtesy of a super-over, it can’t be forgotten that England had must-win fixtures against India and New Zealand at the end of the group-stage. This made for an incredibly high-jeopardy end to that stage of the competition.
For the CWC23 schedule, there is enormous commercial value inherent in maximising the number of games that India play – as not only hosts but by far the biggest cricketing superpower. Therefore, a schedule which unduly hampers their chances of progressing would have a significantly adverse impact on the tournament’s commercial success, and equally any schedule should seek fairness across all participants.
The RWC23 has fallen foul of this mistake, with its draw made too long before the tournament began and subsequently meaning that two of the strongest and most commercially-attractive sides will be eliminated at the quarter-final stage.
The 2023 Cricket World Cup will hopefully deliver another thrilling tournament for cricket fans across the world – however, TFG believe there was certainly room for improvement with the schedule to further enhance its quality, jeopardy and connection to fans. The TFG Scheduler Tool is designed to deliver optimal schedules for competition rights-holders and is now being put to use for a range of upcoming competitions across the global sporting calendar.
If you would like to find out more about our Scheduler Tool and broader Competition Intelligence services, please get in touch with Ben Marlow