By
Glenn Dyer

One Day
International cricket will be seen more often in prime time in full ratings
after the good numbers for the Nine Network for the three games of the
Australia-ICC World side series.

Australia
had a clean sweep and they did the job for Nine, with a win on Wednesday night
and 1.481 million viewers Wednesday night, and a huge 1.789 million viewers on
Friday night, and a win on the night as well.

Nine
has signed a new long term broadcasting deal with Cricket Australia and live
prime time telecasts of One Day Internationals must now bring in audiences, especially in
Melbourne, if Nine is to pay for the deal without cutting profit
margins.

These latest figures will help Nine do that because the audiences are bigger than hoped for – there’s
nothing like a winning team to boost numbers and the sharp increase of 300,000
or so from Wednesday to Friday night indicates that.

The
actual audience at the game at Docklands jumped from around 18,400 for the first
game to just over 29,300 people on Friday.

Sunday’s audience of just over 31,000 would have been
encouraging as the Australians series win was known after Friday night. The
total audience for the three games in Melbourne was around 79,000, which is thought
to have been what the International Cricket Council had
estimated.

So
clearly the live broadcast did not have a noticeably adverse impact on
attendances.

Seven
Network would be happy though because Docklands is the only place ODIs can be played at this time of year (apart from
Brisbane, but
the Gabba is still recovering from the AFL
season).

Games
could be played in Brisbane in mid to late November, which would be the sort of
timing Nine would be looking at, especially with England here to defend the
Ashes at the end of 2006.

But the
key to prime time ratings telecasts is going live into Melbourne. Friday night an average 634,000
people watched, compared to only 473,000 in the slightly bigger Sydney
market.

Because
it can now telecast live all sessions in each ODI, Nine will be able to
boost what it charges advertisers in Melbourne.

Previously it was only the first two hours of live play
that was telecast in the afternoon with low audience levels and low ad
rates.

It was
raining on Wednesday during the game and the weather wasn’t all that flash in
Melbourne on
Friday and Sunday, meaning that the closed roof at Docklands enabled the game to
be played: helping Nine, Seven, advertisers, sponsors and of course viewers here
and around the world.

The
fact that the game could go on, despite the wet weather on one day meant a
win-win situation for all concerned, especially Nine
and Cricket Australia.

Peter Fray

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