Saturday, 8 February 2014

Women's Cricket Needs The Exposure of Free-To-Air TV

The Australian WT20 (Women's T20) Final took place yesterday, with the Queensland Fire beating the ACT Meteors at the WACA.

The match was broadcast on live, free-to-air [FTA] TV and got an audience of over 60 thousand*. That's not a huge number** but it is about 60 thousand more than watched our Women's T20 Finals Day which was not on TV at all!

It was sort-of covered on the radio, by a local station (BBC Kent???) who broadcast periodic live updates. That's better than nothing, I guess; but when you are a growing sport, nothing beats getting the games in front of people on live, FTA TV.

This is currently not an option in the UK - Sky own the exclusive rights to all cricket played under the auspices of the ICC, under a contract that extends to 2017.

This has been great for men's cricket - in the short term at least, the Sky contract has made the game rich beyond its wildest dreams; and to be fair some of this bounty has trickled-down into women's cricket. But it creates a very limiting situation for the women's game, where new fans can only come from the existing fan-base of men's cricket. Broader horizons would surely benefit the women's game, as they have women's football, which has been getting a lot of new supporters now the internationals are shown on the BBC.

I don't have any answers here - a contract is a contract; and although Sky did permit one game from last summer's Women's Ashes to be broadcast on-line, there is absolutely no chance that they will allow any "leakage" to other TV stations. But wouldn't it be great for the game if they did?

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* Hat-Tip: Davis Harrigan
** Sky claim peak viewing figures of over 1 million for last summer's Men's Ashes.

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