By SAT News Desk
MELBOURNE, 22 February: More than 2.3 million people attended cricket this summer, setting a new record for attendance for the sport and smashing the attendance record set last season by more than 20%, demonstrating the strength of cricket to unite Australia.
2,349,882 people attended international cricket, the KFC Big Bash League (BBL), and the Rebel Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL), representing a 26% increase in attendance on the previous record, 1,863,846, set in the 2016-17 season.
In addition to the record attendances, cricket dominated the summer from a TV broadcast perspective, with impressive rating results achieved across international and domestic formats thanks to the close collaboration between Cricket Australia and its broadcast partners. The significant support of Australian broadcast partners, as well as that of worldwide broadcasters and the Cricket Network, meant the 2017-18 season was viewed by more people globally than in any previous year. Australian Cricket was beamed into more than 130 countries around the globe this season.
The summer was also the most digitally connected season on record as Cricket Australia’s digital platforms recorded another year of outstanding growth, cementing Cricket Network’s position as Australia’s number one digital sports destination across the summer. The unique audience across CA’s digital properties increased by 19% in December to 2.94 million, while video views have increased by 60% globally year to date. Streaming views and minutes watched increased by an incredible 100% year-on-year, while overall subscriptions increased 60% year on year.
Cricket Australia Digital also launched the new MyCricket App, which features personalized content and messaging capability. The market-leading Cricket Australia Live also introduced a new Match Day section tailored to fans in the stadium, to complement its existing news, videos and live streaming content.
The international season began with the highly anticipated Commonwealth Bank Women’s Ashes Series. A record 29,158 people attended the seven-match series, the first women’s international series to be ticketed by Cricket Australia, including a sold-out first match at Brisbane’s Allan Border Field and a crowd of 12,665 at the inaugural women’s Day-Night Test at North Sydney Oval.
Total viewership across the six matches broadcast on Channel Nine reached just over 4 million, with the final One-Day International televised on the main channel attracting a significant audience, providing further indication of the growing appetite for the women’s game.
The Women’s Ashes delivered 4.5M minutes watched across CA’s digital platforms. Fans around the world could also enjoy every ball of the action, including Ellyse Perry’s recording-breaking unbeaten 213, thanks to the world-class livestream broadcast of the Commonwealth Bank Day-Night Test at North Sydney Oval.
1,154,321 people attended the Magellan Ashes Series and Gillette One-Day International Series, both contested against England, as well as the Gillette T20INTL Tri-Series between Australia, England, and New Zealand. The Magellan Ashes on its own attracted 866,732 fans, making it the second most-attended Test series on Australian soil, following the 1936-37 Ashes series.
Attendance highlights included the 199,147 fans at the Magellan Day-Night Ashes Test, the most attended match ever at Adelaide Oval, the 252,672 people who packed into the MCG, the second largest crowd for a Boxing Day Test, and the sold-out crowd of 53,781 that attended the Perth ODI, the first sporting event to be hosted at Optus Stadium.
The record attendances were supported by strong TV ratings across the men’s international series, with an average of 1,291,128 million watching the Test, ODI, and T20INTL matches on the Nine Network. The highest rating session of the international season was the third session from Day 2 of the Adelaide Test, with 2.1 million national viewers.
The popularity of the Rebel Women’s Big Bash League continued to grow in its third season, with 151,931 fans turning out to see the world’s best cricketers in action across WBBL|03, representing a 25% increase in attendance on WBBL|02. The opening weekend was a highlight for the season, with nearly 9,000 fans attending four matches across two days, while the Sydney derby played between the Sydney Sixers and Sydney Thunders attracted a season-high attendance of 16,380.
WBBL|03 continued the popularity of the competition with TV audiences averaging 223,000 viewers nationally per match, more than 1.8 million live streams, and more than 9 million minutes viewed on the Cricket Network’s live stream, with all non-televised matches appearing live and free on cricket.com.au, the CA Live App, and Mamamia’s website.
A total of 1,143,763 people attended the KFC BBL|07, an 8.5% increase on BBL|06 and the third season in a row to have attracted more than one million fans, with an average of 26,599 fans per match. The expanded competition – 43 matches up from 35 in BBL|06 – saw matches taken to new locations across Australia including Canberra, Geelong, Launceston and Alice Springs, with fans in these new markets throwing their full support behind the competition. The Perth Scorchers BBL semi-final was also played at Optus Stadium, with a crowd of 52,960 in attendance.
The KFC Big Bash League was popular once again with TV audiences, with the seventh edition of the tournament averaging 947,000 viewers nationally per match, with a season-high peak audience of 1.84 million during the Adelaide Strikers vs Hobart Hurricanes Final match at Adelaide Oval. In addition to the Network Ten broadcast, the BBL and WBBL were also broadcast to more than 130 countries globally.
Across the season, Cricket Australia also raised $1,728,696 for charitable causes, with the McGrath Foundation, Movember, the Allanah & Madeline Foundation, Lord’s Taverners, and Brisbane’s Lord Mayor’s Charitable Trust all receiving contributions. Funds were raised through a $2 donation from every ticket sold to the Commonwealth Bank Women’s Ashes and the opportunity to donate more at the point of purchase, gold coin donation entry for day 5 of each Magellan Ashes Test, and additional at-match fundraising efforts.
Commenting on the season, Cricket Australia Chief Executive Officer James Sutherland said that through strong TV ratings, record crowd numbers and digital engagement, Cricket has had its biggest season ever and reinforced its position as the nation’s favourite pastime.
“We’re extremely delighted to celebrate the 2017-18 season as our biggest summer yet. With more than 2.3 million people attending matches around the country and strong audience numbers following the cricket via TV broadcasts or our digital channels, Cricket truly is the sport of the nation – and never more so than when our teams are playing against England in Ashes series.
“Our women’s and men’s cricketers have been outstanding this summer and I am sure cricket lovers around the country join me in commending them on securing both the women’s and men’s Ashes. We are all immensely proud of their achievements and the way they have gone about representing their country – on and off the field.
“The level of support both Ashes series received from fans reinforces the status of cricket as an integral part of the fabric of the Australian summer. It would be remiss not to mention the thousands of visitors who traveled from all parts of the world to support the women’s and men’s England team. They have provided loyal and enthusiastic support – and we hope that this will not be their last visit to Australia.
“Together with other member countries of the ICC, we view the future of Test cricket with increasing optimism, we look forward to the commencement of the Test Championship in 2019, and are committed to ensuring the primacy of this most traditional format of the game.
“2017 marked another year of smashing boundaries for women and girls cricket in Australia with the game continuing to grow at a rapid rate – particularly at community level.
“The Australian Women’s Cricket Team successfully retained the Ashes on home soil and once again represented their country with pride, inspiring young cricketers across the country in the process. We look forward to supporting them over the next 12 months as they turn their focus to reclaiming the World T20 crown in the West Indies next November.
“The WBBL continues to raise the bar as arguably the best women’s domestic league in Australia and has proven to be hugely effective in highlighting our elite pathway and demonstrating the amazing career opportunities that cricket now provides talented young female athletes.
“The BBL continued its success with nearly 1.2 million fans attending the expanded season. For the first time ever, matches were played in every state and territory, including five new markets; Alice Springs, Canberra, Geelong, and Launceston. We’re looking forward to exploring new markets for BBL|08 next season.
“We could never have achieved the level of success we did this season without our fans. The continued success and growth of cricket in Australia is a result of the passion of our fans and we are pleased that so many of our at-match initiatives, our close collaboration with our broadcast partners, and our digital innovations have been so well received.
“With India, South Africa and Sri Lanka touring in 2018/19, we are excited about next season and are committed to continuing to serve our fans high expectations.
“The interest in the elite level of our game is also translating to our grassroots, where we are already seeing an increase in our preliminary participation figures compared to last season.
“A huge thanks must go to the players who take part in all our formats. The BBL and WBBL players are continuing to inspire the next generation through their ongoing fan engagement and passion with their captivating action on the field.
“We are also very grateful to our broadcasters and commercial partners and the media for their support across the summer. Without them, we cannot continue to innovate and deliver some of the best and entertaining sporting events in the world.
“We hope that next summer will be even better and we are already looking for more ways to enhance the experience for our fans, whether they are attending matches, following online, or tuning in to the broadcasts,” concluded Mr. Sutherland.
- Story based on Cricket Australia Media Release,