How we saw Round 1 of the Big Bash League
Sydney Thunders' David Warner celebrates his century during their Big Bash League match against the Melbourne Stars at the MCG (AAP Image/Mal Fairclough)
In this Exclusive Roar guest column by Mike McKenna of Cricket Australia, the Big Bash League project owner, McKenna explains to how Cricket Australia judged the opening round of the Big Bash League: a topic of strong debate on this site.
“Happy with Round 1 but with plenty of work ahead: This is the feeling at Cricket Australia following the first round of the KFC Big Bash League.
Sure, the pre-season hype built the attendance expectations to unrealistic levels and we were caught up in that too. The reality of the choices people have to make at this time of year punctured those fantasies and quickly brought our focus back to pre-season forecasts which were much more accurate.
However, the attendances across all four matches and the exciting ratings on Fox Sports are very satisfying and the Big Bash League has clearly opened up with strong results.
It was most pleasing to see large numbers of families with kids attending and having a great time. When you bear in mind that the BBL is part of Cricket’s long term strategy to attract kids and females to the game, the short term results are not the be all and end all.
Anyone who has been a regular at International cricket matches in recent times could not help but notice the profile of the BBL audiences are very different from those seen at Tests or ODIs. This is a measure of success for the League and at this early stage we are on track.
We expect to see ups and downs in crowds and TV audiences over the early years of the League, however to start with record breaking TV audiences and acceptable attendances is a fair reward for the work BBL Teams, CA and State Associations have put into promoting the new competition.
Ratings for Fox Sports’ broadcasts over the weekend saw average audiences of 325,000 (Sydney Sixers v Brisbane Heat), 476,000 (Melbourne Stars v Sydney Thunder), 347,000 (Adelaide Strikers v Melbourne Renegades) and 274,000 for the late Sunday match (Perth Scorchers v Hobart Hurricanes). These were well ahead of our expectations, with three of the four being in the top few cricket matches ever broadcast on Fox Sports.
The Stars match was the fourth highest rating broadcast, of any type, on Pay TV in Australia. The four matches were seen, in part at least, by between 800,000 and one million Australians. Live streaming of the matches on the Cricket Live app would have added to that number. This is a successful start by any reckoning.
Attendances were slightly less than our pre-season estimates but with these being the first T20 domestic fixtures played prior to Christmas, there were no benchmarks to guide us, outside International matches which rarely draw more than matches played post-Christmas.
There are plenty of clubs in other domestic sports who would have been very happy with crowds of 12,285 (Sixers), 23,494 (Stars), 13,307 (Strikers) and 11,742 (Scorchers) to their venues. With an attendance target of 16,000 on average across the season, we are well on track.
There are those who are not interested in the BBL, who are Test and/or ODI fans exclusively. They are part of the heart and soul of cricket’s supporter base and have every right to reject T20 but hopefully they can see and respect the large sections of the population who have taken to T20 cricket with a passion and will probably be the first to see the next David Warner, Nathan Lyon or Pat Cummins make their breakthrough into top level cricket, before playing Tests for Australia.”