As Nine Entertainment Co’s GEM and News Corp Australia’s Fox Sports each generate strong ratings for their coverage of the Ashes in England, the question is what level of media coverage will the Southern Stars receive in their upcoming Ashes battle against the old enemy?
The Southern Stars are currently Australia’s most successful cricket team holding the Women’s Ashes, T20 and 50-over ICC World Cup trophies. However TV coverage of their recent successes pales into comparison to that of their male counterparts.
This year’s 50-over World Cup was broadcast in Australia on Fox Sports and there has also been women’s cricket on the ABC in recent years. Despite such coverage an Australian broadcaster for the upcoming women’s Ashes series in England has not been confirmed. Cricket Australia’s website currently lists no broadcasters on its ‘upcoming matches’ schedule (see the screenshot below).
In the UK, Sky Sports will provide some coverage of the upcoming women’s Ashes series on its dedicated Sky Sports Ashes HD channel. The upcoming series comprises of a one-off test match, three ODIs and three T20s. Sky Sports will broadcast all three T20s live. Despite this, there appears to be no Australian broadcaster for this crucial series.
It is now time for an Australian broadcaster to take the Sky feed for the T20 internationals. The ABC announced last week it will provide coverage of Australia’s national basketball teams (both men and women) in a FIBA sanctioned trans-Tasman series. If the ABC will broadcast such a series, why won’t it or another broadcaster provide local coverage for the Southern Stars? Surely live TV coverage of the best cricket team in the women’s game is warranted. Live TV coverage is a key element to growing the sport.
The women’s game is exciting and enthralling, with high skill and increasing popularity, especially in the T20 format of the game. Since Australia won the 50-over World Cup in India this year, there has been increasing media exposure for the likes of Holly Ferling and Ellyse Perry. In fact Perry (the dual Australian cricket and soccer international) was ranked by SportsPro Media magazine as one of the world’s top 50 marketable athletes (men or women) for 2013.
There still may be a long way to go until the women’s game reaches parity with the mens (in terms of commercial support and widespread media coverage) but to help the women’s game grow and attract sponsors, it needs more live TV coverage of matches involving the best teams in the world. The women’s Ashes is a good starting point.
Lets hope more women’s cricket is available to viewers in Australia and elsewhere sooner rather than later. This year’s Ashes series should be first stop for an Australian broadcaster.
Update: ABC Grandstand is providing live radio streaming of the women’s Ashes test match and live stream of ODI v England available on cricket.com.au thanks to the ECB – http://cricketa.us/S6Kn91