Didn’t the Women’s Big Bash prove that! The WBBL pulled an average TV audience of 231,000 with the Heat v Strikers game pulling 427,000. The first two televised games attracted three times the number of the free-to-air A-League football matches and also outrated the men’s domestic one-day cup and NBL basketball. Who says women’s sports don’t rate!
They say momentum is a powerful force in sport and that certainly was the case with the Women’s Big Bash. After executives saw the standout figures from the opening game, they immediately added the two semi-finals to the broadcast calendar, and promoted three games (including the WBBL Final) to Ten’s main channel from One HD.
When Channel 9 saw the figures from TEN, they immediately made plans to also broadcast the upcoming Series against India onto Channel 9’s main channel.
See how it works?
It’s real figures broadcasters and sports organisations react to. Figures mean television ratings and attendance numbers at matches. Close to 13,000 people watched the women’s big bash at the MCG on New Year’s Day between the Stars and Renegades while a further 372,000 watched it on television, sending a huge message that women’s cricket can be a commercial success. You can’t be an armchair advocate complaining that women’s sports aren’t being taken seriously, the bum on a seat that makes a difference is the one in the stadium.
They may only be 140 characters but it’s amazing the impact that it can have on the movers and shakers of the sports world. Social media is a direct link to the fans and organisations employ people to measure the social impact a game is having on the cyber world. Your tweets are measured, evaluated and can make a huge difference on whether a sport is deemed a success or not. So the more people who tweet and post messages on social media, the more it helps women’s sports.
It wasn’t just the women watching, it was the men too and they were watching for all the right reasons – to see a good athletic match. Women’s sports won’t work if they only interest women, they have to appeal to men too to be a ratings success and they’re doing just that.
Take a look at the autograph sessions held after every WBBL game and it wasn’t just little girls hanging over the railings or running up to players for autographs, it was little boys as well. This is so important for the long term future of women’s sports. If little boys see women as athletes and idols their whole idea of sport will change. It’s not just a sport for men and where males are the stars, but for women as well. These little boys are going to grow up and be members of clubs, players, administrators and fans, if they’re learning to appreciate and value women in sport from an early range imagine how much better the sports landscape will be for the next generation of women in sport. Normalise women’s sports to both genders from an early age.
From 2011- 2014 the reporting of women’s cricket in the media increased…get this…a staggering 967%. No that wasn’t a typo, here it is again…967%. Figures released soon after also showed that the number of females playing the game rose 39%. It’s no co-incidence, the popularity of the Southern Stars inspired more girls to take up the sport. Value and grow your women’s game and your sport will grow off the back of it.
This was a breakthrough year for women’s cricket, but before too many backs are slapped and the feet are put up let me remind you that the ice can easily melt on a snowball effect. Back in 1999, the Women’s FIFA World Cup captured the attention of the globe and in particular the difficult US Sports market. The U.S team became a national sensation, there were endless news reports, articles and the final between America and China saw 90,000 people pack into the Rosebowl while another 40 million watched on their TV screens. Everyone believed at the time that this was the breakthrough that women’s sport needed and the popularity would grow from there. It wasn’t the case though as the popularity didn’t transfer over to the domestic leagues and women’s sports continued to struggle. The point is, it takes more than just one event or one season to create a success. It takes continued effort to do that and it won’t happen on its own. Improvements need to be made and pressure continually applied to make sure the snowball keeps growing as it can easily melt.
The success of Women’s Big Bash didn’t happen organically, Cricket Australia had been working tirelessly behind closed doors and invested time and resources into making it a success., including sharing the production costs with Channel 10. Women’s sports need that support from all codes and competitions. . Other sports will be looking to Cricket Australia as a benchmark in their promotion of their women’s game.
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