The 2021–22 season of the Women's Big Bash League (WBBL|07), Australian cricket’s top-tier domestic Twenty20 competition was the most-watched season ever and will be used as a blueprint for the growth of the sport.
Season seven saw a 15 per cent increase in cumulative average viewing audiences when compared to season six with higher average audiences per game.
That is in large part due to every match having been broadcast on television for the first time, with 25 shown by free-to-air commercial broadcaster Seven Network and the remainder aired on Foxtel, the prominent Australian pay-TV broadcaster, and Kayo, its sports streaming service, as well as live-streamed for free on cricket.com.au and the Cricket Australia Live App.
Alistair Dobson, general manager of the Big Bash Leagues, said: “It shows when you've got all games on TV, fans are able to really follow the narrative of the season …
“When you've got all the games that are accessible on TV, it allows fans to really engage in not just who's winning and who's on the top of the ladder, but all those individual storylines that are so rich in the WBBL.”
WBBL|07 culminated with the WBBL final on Saturday (27 November), which was the most-watched game in the league's history.
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A combined average audience of 535,000 across TV and streaming platforms tuned in to watch the Perth Scorchers beat the Adelaide Strikers to win a maiden WBBL title, outdoing the 506,000 audience for the final of WBBL|04.
Saturday’s final also drew a crowd of 15,511 at Perth’s Optus Stadium, which was also a record, eclipsing the previous record of 5,650 for a standalone WBBL match set during WBBL|04 and of 10,069 for a WBBL finals match set at a WBBL|03 semi-final.
Dobson said: “Last night showed when you've got a big stadium and good promotion and two great teams, that people turn up in big numbers.”
Looking to the future, he said the ambition for the WBBL is to start building its broadcast footprint using primetime slots to do so.
“Next year, whether it's Friday nights or Thursday nights, a bit more regularity in that primetime space is something that I think is the next evolution for next year,” Dobson explained.
“It certainly stood out to us and [we had] lots of feedback from fans that they wanted to be watching [at those times] and there are opportunities there so I think it's right that we start to build not only on the number of games [broadcast] but how we can make them as big as possible.”