The game of Twenty20 cricket evolves very quickly. Statistics/previous game trends can change within a series or a calendar year. And so too the numbers who walk-up to cricket matches where it seems in 2016 that fans have voted with their feet, and little seems to be halting the T20 Big Bash League from building audiences locally and across the cricketing globe.
It appears that this year’s league has captivated audiences so far, with records broken on both sides of the continent where viewers have enjoyed watching batsmen clobber a white ball over the long fence. The game of T20 is that simple really.
Figures from the BBL webpage show increases in patronage at Adelaide and especially Perth where figures show close to 40,000 fans have attended the Scorchers’ two Big Bash League games. Attendance of 20,553 at the club’s season opener falling just shy of the Perth’s home attendance record of 20,783
In the lucrative Sydney television audience figures, good news was reported by Cricket Australia. The opening match of the KFC Big Bash League’s fifth season was a ‘ratings smash’ with more than 1.5 million people tuning in for the Sydney derby between the Thunder and the Sixers.
With such improved numbers, the game looks to be in a healthy position, and many games have been completed with packed houses. Audiences have been fantastic since the Christmas break and might gladly continue for the league, with some local derby matches like the recent Melbourne Stars v Renegades which exceeded all expectations: 80,883 attended the MCG match on Saturday night.
The quality of cricket has seen game highlights flooding Sports News headlines around the globe which is a great advertisement for the game in general. Plus, the T20 World Cup is just around the corner, so it is the best exposure money can buy.
With many more highlights set for this 2016 summer, that will have patrons returning after this season concludes in just one game or two’s exposure as they are ‘bedazzled’ by the atmosphere and grandiose stage. It is an event now, a place to be seen and it translates well at the ground. Today you see the players with more realism, in-close camera work up on stadium big screens. More interaction with active players on-field now includes television microphones worn by players that certainly adds to the evening’s audio for those watching in the comfort of home, at a club or bar.
Imported stars such as Chris Gayle and Kevin Pietersen now often wear microphones which produces some compelling television viewing. This results in conversation and banter where; as an example, Pietersen beckoning he would dream that Gayle might ‘pop’ the ball up for an easy catch, and summarily, Gayle acquiesced. It was almost surreal but it was sports entertainment indeed.
Pietersen proves Nostradamus https://t.co/BKhKVxhIow #BigBashT20 #BBL05 #GoStars #getonred
— Chirath Vithanage (@ChirathV) January 2, 2016
Beside those two stars, the BBL is full of current T20 players from Australian State sides like Travis Head, as well as full former Internationals like Shane Watson who add local flavour and bring attention to the league. For all that exposure, 2015/2016 looks to be the season that this competition finally benefits from an audience who have a wider choice today.
The market that T20 is competing against are sports like basketball and football. There are also competing cricket series; with the series between South Africa and England and the local Australia vs West Indies Test series to distract them. This choice, including New Zealand vs Sri Lanka ODI series, has defined the strong numbers benefiting higher broadcast figures and spectators.
From a viewer’s perspective, the game is wide-ranging, fast-paced (aimed directly at the consumer) and brings the crowd into the game much more. By engaging with ‘the paying customer’ the KFC Big Bash producers have created an audience who watch both at the ground and even remotely; enjoying highlights post-game or the next morning. The satisfaction level is high.
Some of the latest matches have been well constructed too, with entertaining innings and some close results. Bristling batsmen like Adelaide’s Travis Head have created interest with some amazing performances. Head scored 101 not out against the Sixers. Hitting 56 runs from his last 15 balls as follows; 4, 6, 4, 6, 6, 1, 0, 2, 2, 6, 0, 1, 6, 6, 6.
The audience in all sports is critical to their success. The BBL was launched five years ago to much fanfare but has realized in that period that the viewer is not an automatic component. They need to be respected and provided a product that is higher than standard. A 2015/2016 vintage of the BBL tastes sweeter than 24 months ago.
Matured, better captivated and engaged, the proof is in the results on the field, and building audiences in key markets and states, the competition has plenty of attention. Good results are bolstering this sentiment. The action and huge sixes that have sailed over the Gabba roofline agree.
The numbers are good for the BBL right now and the play on the ground must accentuate the positive.