Australian cricket continued to build on the success of last year’s home ICC Cricket World Cup, with the past 12 months featuring records for attendance, TV viewing and online audiences, highlighting the game’s position as the country’s number one summer pastime.
At Cricket Australia’s Annual General Meeting, the sport’s governing body reported its net result of operations for the year ended 30 June 2016 – after grants to state associations of $106,259,550 (2015: $106,002,709) – was a surplus of $9,701,628 (2015: surplus $98,665,494).
The reduction in the net result was primarily driven by the 2014-15 financial year booking host profits from the Cricket World Cup (CWC), along with reduced international media rights revenue in the current year.
CA manages its finances over a four-year cycle to smooth out the annual fluctuations in broadcast revenue, which is based on whichever team is visiting Australia that summer.
As another summer approaches, the Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars are ranked the number one in the world. The Australian men, having recently lost number one Test ranking, are ranked three, one and five respectively across Test, One-Day International and T20 International cricket.
The AGM heard that 1,727,270 Australians attended international cricket, the KFC Big Bash League and the Rebel Women’s Big Bash League during 2015-16, making it the country’s most attended cricket season on record.
Cricket also became one of the most popular and highest participation sports, with a record 1,311,184 participating around the nation last year. The record saw an eight and a half per cent increase since 2014-15, currently placing cricket as the number one participation sport in Australia.
Female participation also reached record figures in 2015-16, growing nine per cent to 314,936. That represents 24 per cent of all participants in the sport and included 581 girls and women’s teams playing 11-a-side cricket at clubs.
An average of 1.3 million people tuned in to watch Test, ODI and T20 international matches broadcast on the Nine Network, and many more followed the action via cricket.com.au and the Cricket Australia Live App, with the highlight being the inaugural Day-Night Test at the Adelaide Oval last November.
The positive response by fans to that match was reflected by record crowds and television ratings, with the national TV audience for the third day peaking at 3.19 million viewers, making it the highest rating day in Nine’s 2015-16 Summer of Cricket. The average of 2.34 million viewers that took in the final session of the match made for the most watched non-Ashes Test session since ratings records began.
Test cricket in Australia consistently rated in the Top 10 television programs nationally throughout the summer, demonstrating the continued appeal of the game’s traditional format.
Complementing the strong results seen for international cricket, the KFC Big Bash League rose to unprecedented levels of popularity in its fifth year, with an average audience of more than 1 million Australians tuning in to watch the tournament on Network TEN, and a record breaking 1,030,495 people attending matches.
Fans across the country flocked to the BBL, with seven out of eight venues setting all-time domestic cricket attendance records, including an incredible 80,883 fans descending on the MCG for the Melbourne Stars vs. Melbourne Renegades clash on 2 January.
The Rebel Women’s Big Bash League also achieved impressive results in just its first season, with more than 70,000 attendees across the 10 broadcast matches in the tournament and an average television audience of 231,000 people watching matches on TEN and ONE. The TV audience peaked to 398,642 viewers during the 2 January Melbourne derby.
The 2015-16 season saw the popularity of Cricket Australia’s digital platforms continue to grow. The Cricket Australia network, including cricket.com.au, achieved a unique audience of more than one million (as measured by Nielsen) in December, to be the second most visited sports news site during the month and to cement its position as the second most popular sporting body website for the year. There was also a surge in video consumption, with nearly 100 million minutes streamed in total across all formats this season, up 20 per cent on last year.
Cricket Australia’s focus remains firmly on fostering diversity in cricket, including more investments into women and girl’s cricket, upgrading facilities, and developing talented players, coaches and umpires to reach elite levels.
More than 8,000 children across five states and one territory are trialling a new junior format, with shorter pitches and smaller playing areas. It is all about making the game easier to learn, introducing many more people to the joys of the sport.
Cricket Australia’s CEO, James Sutherland, said that a focus on continuing to invest in important strategic projects, as has been demonstrated this year, will continue.
“More people are interested in cricket than any other sport for the first time in recent memory, and research measuring Australian’s passion for sport shows that cricket inspires more passion than any other sport.
“We could not achieve our success without the commitment and hard work of around 50,000 volunteers, the cricketers, the cricket administration professionals across the State and Territory Cricket Associations and at Cricket Australia, and our broadcast and commercial partners.
“We plan to continue to build on this success and legacy of the World Cup with our focus on consolidating cricket as Australia’s favourite game and as a sport for all Australians.
“We have begun work on a new, formal strategic plan for launch in mid-2017. Earlier this year, we staged our second Australian Cricket Conference. That was about accelerating our progress, attracting and supporting females as community-level and elite-level players, and as fans to help ensure cricket is a sport for all Australians.
“Developing more sustainable high-performances is a major focus for the sport. To that end, Australian cricket is starting to reap the benefits of a better co-ordinated and more sharply focused high -performance approach. We know we have to find a way to win regularly when overseas.
“At a club level, the mindset about females playing the game has changed. Similarly, our participant base continues to better reflect the diverse nature of Australia’s population.
“The response from the Australian cricket community will change the dynamic of female participation in cricket right across the country, with more opportunities for girls to play cricket than ever before,” Mr Sutherland continued.
“The cricket community is determined to throw their support behind growing cricket for girls and women and continue to work towards making cricket clubs right across the nation more inclusive.
“Cricket has and will continue to lead the way on female athlete payments, and we are also investing heavily in female engagement through a newly formed Growing Cricket for Girls Fund.
“Whilst this year’s operating results are down on last year, we have and will continue to invest in the game at many levels and continue to realise the long-held desire to boost revenues, support our member associations with valuable funding and safeguard cricket for future generations,” concluded Mr Sutherland.
To view the full annual report click here.