They’re cheering at Willoughby and Cricket Australia after the recent ratings of 20/20 cricket, as Terry Television explains.

They’re cheering at Willoughby and Cricket Australia after the recent ratings of 20/20 cricket, but equally there’ll be a few furrowed brows at both organisations. Why?

Quickie/Quickie cricket, also known as 20/20 cricket.

Apart from the Charity one day match last Monday for the tsunami appeal (average more than two million people), quickie cricket has comprehensively defeated the two one day internationals played so far in the VB series, attracting up to three hundred thousand more viewers than the two ODIs which both involved the audience-grabbing Australian team.

So while there’s cheering over the success of the 20/20 game involving Australia A and Pakistan from Adelaide on Thursday night, there’s also now fears that it could overshadow the longer established One Day game in terms of TV audiences.

The 20/20 game was a first, so the novelty factor is there, but there’s clearly potential. More than 1.380 million people tuned in for the two and a half hours of 20/20 cricket (or twenty/twenty).

Compared to the more formal and structured One Day form, quickie cricket resembles beach or backyard cricket.

It may have been a trial but it surprised with the big crowd at the ground of more than 21,000 (after more than 20,000 packed out the WACA in Perth the night before for a 20/20 game between WA and Victoria).

In contrast the One Day Game on Friday involving Australia and the West Indies averaged 1.003 million. It was the 5th most watched program, compared to the first place ranking the night before for quickie/quickie.

And yesterday’s ODI involving Australia and Pakistan from Hobart (a day game so the audience should have been lower) in fact attracted more viewers and averaged 1.087 million people, a good result for cricket and Nine. It was the 6th most popular program.

But it was still far behind the first 20/20 game.

Now when it’s in its 30th or so season of playing and being broadcast, will 20/20 still rank as highly? Will it after the end of next season when we will undoubtedly see more games on TV?

It is a quick form of tip and run. That makes it exciting for viewers and crowds and makes it good for TV and broadcasters.

This strong audience interest will guarantee that 20/20 cricket is around next year in someway. Perhaps Cricket Australia might want to separate this out of the contract renegotiations about to get underway and offer it to Ten or Seven as a way of getting an auction up to drive more money for the Test and One Day rights from Nine ( pay more and we’ll throw in the 20/20 rights).

Judging by the performance on the field, the way the crowd reacted and the number of people there, it has arrived as a sporting entertainment form. For how long no one knows. Test cricket has waxed and waned and waxed in popularity over the years with the performance of the national team.

It will clearly force Nine and Cricket Australia to launch a televised series next year, perhaps even as part of the ING Cup to preserve that competition and the one day skills it teaches first class cricketers.

However 20/20 cricket should not be given the same status as one day internationals or ING Cup, but made into a sort of Australian cricket version of the FA Cup. It is the sort of thing that Pay TV here will want to broadcast to get its foot into the door after broadcasting the Ashes tour mid year.

The 20/20 game was the most watched program in Sydney and Melbourne and was in the top ten in Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. Its audiences easily eclipsed those for the ODI games in Sydney Melbourne and Brisbane in particular.

For Nine or any other network there’s the attraction of running it as a two and a half hour program in mid evening, with a high rating strong program before and after to built the audience and to take advantage of it.

Costs should also be lower for the network as the crewing and broadcast time will be shorter (not up to ten hours, more like half that or even less). While the higher audience numbers should enable higher rates to be charged for advertising.

It makes it an ideal candidate for prime time TV late in Spring and in early summer for Nine (or Seven or Ten if they get their hands on it).

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
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