By SAT Sports Desk
MELBOURNE, 19 February 2021: The COVID-19 pandemic came very hard on cricket. In Australia and globally it suffered. Despite this big challenge, the good news is Cricket today has come back with a vengeance with millions of fans across Australia and around the world ensuring that the men’s and women’s international and Big Bash seasons were among the most-watched on record.
With the Women’s National Cricket League, Marsh One-Day Cup, and Marsh Sheffield Shield in full swing, and the Qantas Australian men’s T20I tour of New Zealand about to commence, Cricket Australia has revealed substantial growth from across its international and T20 domestic competitions this summer.
In the 2020-21 session, all three formats of men’s international cricket increased year-on-year linear television audiences, while streaming numbers smashed all-time records;
The KFC BBL was the most-watched on record, with a total audience of 44.82 million across the tournament and increased year-on-year linear television and streaming audiences, confirming the league’s standing as Australia’s most popular domestic sporting competition on TV on a per-match basis;
The remarkable growth of women’s cricket continued with the WBBL establishing itself as Australia’s fourth most-watched sporting league – and No. 1 among female sports – while the Australian women’s national team built on the extraordinary success of its T20 World Cup campaign with recognition as Australia’s most loved sporting team.
Dettol ODIs and T20s
The men’s Dettol ODI series between Australia and India was watched by an average of 357,656 on Foxtel, up 214% on the corresponding series last year;
The inclusion of Kayo, Foxtel Now and Foxtel GO streaming numbers increased the average audience to 492,000, an increase of 77% from the most recent Australia-India series in 2018/19;
The Dettol T20I series also attracted huge levels of interest from Australian cricket lovers, with an average audience of 403,411 on STV, up 75% on last year and almost 10% up the last time India toured Australia;
The inclusion of Kayo, Foxtel Now and Foxtel Go streaming numbers increased the average audience for the Dettol T20I series to 558,000, up 77% from 2018/19.
Vodafone Test Series
The highly-anticipated Vodafone Test Series between Australia and India was the highest rating non-Ashes Test season since 2014/15, with an average linear TV audience of 1.14 million, up 4.1% on last year;
The epic four-match Border-Gavaskar series was the highest rating Test series ever on subscription television, with linear STV growing by 25%;
The average audience figures increased to 1.23 million per match with the inclusion of Kayo, Foxtel Now and Foxtel Go streaming numbers, while an incredible 28 sessions of the 31 sessions played of Test cricket had an average audience over 1 million, the most of any sport in Australia in 2020 when compared to other codes.
Commonwealth Bank Women’s International Series
The all-conquering Australian women’s team continued their extraordinary momentum from the ICC T20 World Cup, with an average linear television audience of 235,563 for the T20I series against New Zealand. The figure ensured the matches against the White Ferns represented the most-watched September series in four years, despite competing with the late-finishing winter sporting codes;
The trajectory of women’s international cricket remains incredibly strong, with television audiences increasing 400% from the 2013-2016 period to 2017-2020;
For the second year in a row, True North Research revealed the Australian Women’s Team was again Australia’s favourite team, scoring the highest Benchmark Emotional Connection Score of any national team.
The rebel WBBL confirmed its standing as the fourth most-watched domestic competition in Australia (behind only the BBL, AFL and NRL). The 202,139 average audience was the sixth consecutive year of more than 200,000 people watching simulcast Rebel WBBL matches on Seven and Foxtel;
The total viewing hours for the competition has doubled since the tournament’s inception, with audiences growing as the schedule has expanded;
A total of 23 international players made it to Australia for the rebel WBBL, highlighting its position as one of the elite female sporting leagues in the world.
The KFC BBL final between the Sydney Sixers and Perth Scorchers attracted an average audience of over 1.4 million – the fourth most watched BBL game in the tournament’s history. That represented a 15% increase on the final of BBL|09 across Seven, Foxtel and streaming services including Kayo, Foxtel Now and Foxtel Go;
The total audience of 44.82 million across the 61-game tournament was the highest in league history – an increase of 5.9% across all platforms YoY, including linear TV growth of 1.4%;
The total audience of 5.64m across the five-game Finals series was the highest in league history – an increase of 15% on last season;
The average audience per match in KFC BBL|10 was 735,000 per game across all platforms, ensuring the Big Bash League remains the most-watched sporting league in Australia on a per-game basis. The linear TV audience of 675,000 was 9,000 higher than KFC BBL|09, while the streaming platform average of 60,000 per game represented 109% growth YoY.
In a season where crowd numbers were severely limited by the pandemic, 858,465 people attended the cricket in 2020/21 summer;
A total of 321,962 attended men’s international matches, and 14% of Test cricket attendees did so for the first time;
More than 520,000 fans attended KFC BBL|10, while the Adelaide Oval, Gabba and Optus stadium all welcomed more than 100,000 fans this season.
A total of 3.5 million Australian users accessed the cricket.com.au site and app each month during December and January, a 6% increase on the same period last year;
In January alone, Australian users of the CA app engaged in almost 22 million sessions on CA Live, a 30% increase year-on-year;
Views on the cricket.com.au YouTube channel have increased 101% worldwide and 20% in Australia year-on-year, with subscriber numbers soaring 57% to 7.85m;
More than 18,000 pieces of content have been produced this year for 4.6 billion impressions, 1.87 billion video views and 110 million interactions on cricket’s social media channels;
A single piece of WBBL content, (Tahlia McGrath’s incredible catch), has been viewed almost 20 million times across all platforms;
CA’s integrated content drove more than 218m off-platform video views.
The Australian and Indian series captivated our Indian audience via the Sony Sports Network, with the cumulative reach for the Test series at a massive 75.8 million viewers.
The total cumulative reach across the Vodafone Test Series, the Dettol ODI Series and the Dettol T20I Series reached more than 110 million viewers in India.
Cricket Australian launched an OTT partnership with LIVENow into Mainland Europe and SE Asia, taking the Summer of Cricket coverage into over 50 countries in an innovative new way, with encouraging interest across a number of markets, with Germany, Japan, Netherlands, Singapore and Hong Kong amongst the standouts.
Despite the adverse commercial climate brought on by the pandemic, CA is extremely grateful for the ongoing support of our commercial partners, which included 13 sponsorship renewals and new partners over the past 12 months;
Rexona joined Vodafone, Dettol, and Cadbury as new partners to cricket.
Cricket Cares, Cricket Australia’s community action program, raised much needed awareness and funds for charities all across Australia, headlined by the McGrath Foundation, Movember and the Alannah & Madeline Foundation;
More than 130 community clubs signed up the Movember Cricket Association to raise awareness around men’s mental health, raising more than $270,000 for Movember;
The Vodafone Pink Test experienced a record-breaking year with more than $3 million raised for the McGrath Foundation off the back of the Virtual Seat Campaign, an increase of almost $1 million from the previous record set in. More than 150,000 seats were bought around the world.
Despite the pandemic’s impact on the season starting, Australian Cricket has worked with thousands of volunteers around the country to get cricket underway in a COVIDsafe environment;
Cricket Australia launched its game changing partnership with PlayHQ for the development of a digital platform which will revolutionise the way volunteers run cricket clubs, with the potential to save hundreds of hours a year per volunteer.
While indoor cricket and school competitions have been impacted by the pandemic, the Woolworths Cricket Blast program already has a higher participation rate than last year and more girls playing Blast than ever before.
Nick Hockley, Cricket Australia’s Interim CEO, says, “For nearly 150 years, cricket has brought Australians together through periods of adversity,” Hockley said.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has been no different. Despite the many challenges, cricket fans in Australia and around the world watched, listened, streamed, clicked, read and attended cricket matches in astonishing numbers – and we are grateful to every one of them.
“We hope everyone is continuing to enjoy the Marsh One-Day Cup, Marsh Sheffield Shield and WNCL and look forward to welcoming everyone back for a huge men’s and women’s Ashes summer next season which, we all hope, will be played in front of full crowds.
“We can’t thank everyone enough for pulling together to make cricket happen this season. From players, staff and match officials, to our friends at New Zealand Cricket and the BCCI, each of the State and Territory Cricket Associations, the Australian Cricketers’ Association, our supportive governments and world class venues, our valued broadcast and commercial partners, fans of all ages, and the thousands of players and volunteers who kept cricket going at community level.
“The 2020-21 season will forever be remembered for the spirit of cooperation, challenges overcome and thrilling cricket across all formats.”
Source- Cricket Australia media release, February 19, 2021.