WBBL television coverage expands
The Women's Big Bash League has continued to gain strong support, with the Ten Network confirming it will now provide television coverage of the tournament semi-finals and also move two of the remaining three matches to its main channel.
Each semi-final is to be played as a double-header with the men's semis, and will be broadcast on the network's digital channel One. That brings the number of games being broadcast up to 10 from eight.
The Sydney derby between the Sixers and the Thunder on Saturday January 16 will be shown on Channel Ten, as will the final on Sunday January 24, which will serve as part of a double-header with the men's final.
The move comes after Ten moved last week's Melbourne derby to its main channel and was rewarded with impressive ratings figures, a peak audience of 439,000 viewers nationally and an average of 372,000. Other matches had been shown on one of Ten's digital multi-channels, but the network's sport executive David Barham said the WBBL was proving to be a hit.
"Network Ten is a big supporter of women's sport," Barham said. "We are putting the same resources into the WBBL broadcasts as we are for the men's games and it is certainly proving to be a hit. We are thrilled with the WBBL ratings to date and are excited to be working with Cricket Australia on this initiative. It is a very exciting time for women's cricket and women's sport as a whole."
The post-game coverage for the remaining three broadcast matches will also be extended by half an hour. Cricket Australia is also reportedly in discussions with the Nine Network about the possibility of moving the upcoming three women's T20 internationals between Australia and India onto its main channel.
"This is another significant step forward for women's sport and in particular women's cricket in Australia," Ben Amarfio, Cricket Australia's executive general manager - media, communications and marketing, said. "We want as many people to be exposed to the game, so to have another two WBBL matches move to Ten's primary channel is a great endorsement for the growing appeal of women's cricket.
"There is a proven TV appetite with the five WBBL broadcast matches so far this season averaging a TV audience of just under 250,000 across Ten's secondary and primary channels, including a record national average of 372,000 tuning in for the women's Melbourne derby last weekend.
"We are committed to embracing all Australians and promoting cricket as being a female-friendly environment. Network Ten has been a great supporter and is playing a key role in inspiring females to understand that cricket is a game for girls and women too."