Focus On The Fans
The secret to the immense success of BBL and WBBL is the fact that the focus has always been on the fans. So says Cricket Australia’s head of the Big Bash League, Kim McConnie. It’s domestic content at its best, with the competition product fast approaching the 1 Billion Dollar mark. With revenue income this generous, it’s only natural that Big Bash is starting to call the shots on as well as off the field.
This season’s BBL07 tournament saw 43 broadcast matches played, 8 up from the previous year’s 35. The women had an even bigger go at it, having played 59 matches. The idea is that more home and away matches will be instituted for the men too, going forward.
In order to expand even more, which is currently a hot topic of conversation, a lot of planning would have to go into working more into an already congested season schedule. Broadcast negotiations are already underway for an expanded season, and the focus here is mostly on the WBBL. Of the 59 matches played by the women, only 12 were broadcast. With close to 80 percent of Cricket Australia’s income gleaned off of broadcasting rights, this is something that will have to be remedied if the playing field is going to be levelled out.
WBBL No Longer A Side-Line Act
Unlike the previous broadcast deal, when the women came in as a side-line act, next season will see the WBBL playing a major role in being the prime bargaining chip as far as broadcast rights and revenue are concerned.
Women’s cricket is learning to stand on its own two feet and is deserving of its own few minutes fame and not merely an add-on instalment to the men’s game anymore, which used to be the case in the past.
Enjoying National Support
Besides for the broadcasting rights, the crowds attending the games in person have been a phenomenal boost to the confidence of the players. Last year saw 17,000 spectators pitch up for a double-header game at the SGC. At venues like the Hurstville Oval, the spectator numbers are well into the 30,000’s – and that’s without the men’s teams being present at all.
The days of Australians not being able to name a single female sports star are fast becoming something of the past, mostly thanks to the valiant efforts by Cricket Australia and the WBBL event organisers.
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