Huge TV ratings for Saturday night’s Women’s Big Bash League match has Cricket Australia’s boss excited about its potential to become a “mainstream” sport.
About 386,000 viewers tuned in to watch Melbourne Stars hold on to beat Sydney Thunder, with about 637,000 Australians watching at one point during the match, the Herald Sun has reported.
The clash, broadcast at prime time on Channel 10, wasn’t the only one to do well, with the Melbourne Renegades and Adelaide Strikers match on Saturday afternoon claiming top spot in is timeslot across the capital cities.
These solid results on the opening weekend of the at WBBL at North Sydney Oval have Cricket Australia chief James Sutherland “excited” about the future of the sport.
“The difference between the peak (audience) and the average is not much, which means that people are watching it and they’re watching it all the way through,” Sutherland said.
“What we saw (Saturday) on TV … is the quality of cricket is fantastic and people want to watch it.”
Sutherland said “basically doubling” the average audience of 230,000 for last year’s televised matches was a good predictor of what’s to come.
"It’s just an indication of the trajectory that the women’s games on both in terms of the standard but also the viewability," he said.
"I’m just excited. These are small steps to women’s cricket being a mainstream sport in Australia."
We're not sure how to feel about the term "mainstream", but if he means "as popular as men's sport" then that's something to get excited about.
As for when the women will be able to give up their day job and focus on cricket full-time, Sutherland said it will happen, but he's not going to rush to it.
"A lot of the women that are playing now are actually enjoying the balance in their life of having another career … and they still want that," Sutherland said.
"I understand there’s an argument to go higher quicker, but I think the best thing to do is transition it in a step way.
"We’re going with quite big steps at the moment and we’d like to think that will continue."