The first match in The Hundred, the new short-format domestic cricket competition in England and Wales, attracted an average of more than 1 million viewers across the UK last night.
The inaugural match in the women's edition, between the Oval Invincibles and the Manchester Originals, in London, was watched by 900,000 on the BBC, the UK’s public-service broadcaster, and 130,000 on Sky Sports, the pay-TV operator.
The Invincibles, the home side, won by five wickets with two balls to spare, and the game’s final stages drew a peak audience across both channels of 1.95 million. This number meant the match became the most-watched game of women’s cricket to take place in the UK.
The BBC accounted for 1.6 million of the peak, with Sky contributing just under 400,000. Both broadcasters have live rights to The Hundred, which features eight city-based franchise teams in both the men’s and women’s editions, with Sky holding full rights and the BBC set to show select key matches such as the first games and finals from both editions.
Last night’s match was streamed over 180,000 times across the BBC Sport and BBC iPlayer websites, and coverage was also available on the Sky Sports YouTube channel.
The format – with each team facing only 100 balls, as opposed to the length of each innings being determined by the number of overs bowled – has been specifically designed to appeal to a new cricket audience.
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Sanjay Patel, managing director of The Hundred, said: “We’re grateful to Sky for their long-term support for English cricket, and especially The Hundred, and are excited by the partnership with them and the BBC helping us to reach a broader audience.”
Elsewhere, Kayo, the sports streaming service of Australian pay-television broadcaster Foxtel, has struck a deal with the England and Wales Cricket Board to show all 64 matches from The Hundred live, with most games, including both finals and other key fixtures, to be shown on the free-to-air Freebies platform.
It is reported there will be linear TV coverage via the Fox Cricket channel.
Across both competitions, at least a dozen Australians are set to appear, including Chris Lynn, Josh Inglis and D'Arcy Short (men’s), and Sammy-Jo Johnson and Georgia Redmayne (women’s).
Late last week, the ECB struck an exclusive four-year deal in India with FanCode, the digital sports platform, for live-streaming rights to The Hundred.