Cricket’s most popular website, Cricinfo, was sold by owner Wisden today to US sports broadcasting group ESPN for an undisclosed fee.
Cricinfo, which has more than seven million users every month, gives ball-by-ball commentary on all Test and one-day international matches, and contains in-depth statistics on every cricketer who has played the game at first-class level.
Wisden said it had sold Cricinfo to concentrate on Hawk-Eye, its software used in cricket and tennis to predict the path of the ball for viewers, and the Wisden Almanack - the cricket-lover’s bible.
Cricinfo was set up by a British scientist, Dr Simon King, in 1993 to follow Middlesex and England while based at the University of Minnesota in the US.
Dr King used early internet technology to share the text-based cricket scoring system with fellow aficionados around the world and the site grew rapidly in popularity with support from expatriate cricket fans.
The site expanded to offer products such as online betting and text updates of scores to mobile phones and, in 2003, merged with its biggest rival, Wisden.com.
Indian users make up a substantial proportion of the site’s visitors and last year Cricinfo moved its global headquarters to Bangalore.
ESPN, a subsidiary of the Walt Disney media group, was attracted to the deal by the strength of Cricinfo’s fanbase.
Lynne Frank, the managing director of ESPN’s Europe, Middle East and Africa division, said: "Cricket has a huge worldwide following and Cricinfo has created a great product for cricket fans everywhere."
The acquisition boosts ESPN’s online business which includes ESPNdesportes.com, a Spanish-language website for US-based Spanish fans.
Wisden Group director Mark Getty said ESPN would provide the "perfect environment" to develop its potential.
He said: "Cricinfo has developed into a significant cricket brand in its own right, combining huge global popularity with strong commercial success."