BBL`s second stint fails to recreate first edition`s magic

Wellington: Australia`s much-hyped Twenty20 Big Bash League`s second stint has failed to recreate the magic of its first edition with ratings down 30 per cent and crowds dipping nearly 40 per cent from the same stage of the competition last year

In a setback for Cricket Australia (CA) and the competition`s broadcaster, Fox Sports, ratings comparisons have revealed that interest in the city-based domestic league has fallen significantly, while plunging attendances also point towards second-year syndrome.

After the first nine games of the tournament, up to and including last Sunday`s grand final rematch between Sydney Sixers and Perth Scorchers at the SCG, the average national television audience was 237,000, a drop of 29 per cent on the same point of 2011-12, the first year of the revamped league.

Average crowds, excluding Thursday night`s game between Sydney Thunder and Adelaide Strikers at ANZ Stadium, are 11,167.

After the same number of matches last December, the BBL was riding high with average attendances of 17,575.

There were hopes at CA that crowds would steadily increase but in the past five BBL games, only once have more than 10,000 people attended.

The numbers are a concern for CA as it prepares for final negotiations for a five-year domestic broadcast deal, particularly if the live five-city metro figures, the industry standard in free-to-air television, not pay television, are taken into account.

According to the CA, mitigating factors, the earlier start to the competition, the weather, and several barely competitive games, have played a part in the decline.

"Out of the 11 matches now, five of them have been rain-affected. Three of them have been impacted during the match and the others prior to the game starting," quoted Mike McKenna, CA`s executive general manager (commercial), who runs the BBL, as saying.

"It has a quite a profound effect on crowds and audiences when you have interruptions to games," he added.


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