More New Zealanders watched cricket than ever before during the first season of New Zealand Cricket's six-year deal with Spark Sport and TVNZ. As per the findings, more people watched women's cricket than ever before, more young people watched cricket and more cricket was viewed by fans "on the go" - via a range of mobile devices.
In a press release, NZC said that this was made possible because of the combination of free-to-air and digital subscription, a "ground-breaking arrangement which is taking cricket to not only more Kiwis, but demographics of New Zealanders previously lost to the game".
The six matches screened live on TVNZ 1 reached 1.86 million viewers, while almost 240,000 Spark Sport viewers watched cricket during the summer. The most viewed T20I during the Australia series attracted 1.24 million viewers. The final ODI between New Zealand Women and Australia Women in Brisbane was viewed by 840,300 fans.
Without going into the numbers, the release said Test matches were also proving to be just as popular as T20Is. The most popular Test was the second one against Pakistan in Christchurch, which New Zealand won by an innings and 176 runs to wrap up the series 2-0. There was also an increase in viewership of both the men's and women's Super Smash, New Zealand's domestic T20 competition.
NZC CEO David White said the results exceeded expectations and he was confident the reach will continue to grow.
"We're hugely encouraged," he said. "The production was professional; the look and feel was fresh and appealing - it was everything we were hoping for.
"On top of the increase in viewership, our latest census is also indicating a significant increase in the number of New Zealanders playing cricket - including a 12% increase in the number of female participants, and a nine percent increase in the number of males.
"We've also had excellent crowd attendances across the season, and we were well on track for sold-out crowds throughout the Australian men's tour before COVID took its toll."
Head of Spark Sport, Jeff Latch, said that getting younger audience on the board via streaming services was the game-changer. "To see these numbers in the first months of our six-year partnership is really encouraging, particularly when you consider sports streaming is still new to many New Zealanders and a sports streaming business like ours takes time to grow," he said.
"It shows that New Zealand households are embracing streaming, which is consistent with the global experience, in which it is now the norm. We've unlocked a new younger audience with streaming given that close to half (47%) of our customer base is aged under 34 years old but are still catering to the traditional fan through TVNZ."