OPINION: KSL On TV: A Double-Edged Sword?

Michael Cooper reflects on the pros and cons of Sky Sports’ impending coverage of the second Kia Super League in August.

On 1st February Sky Sports announced that they would be showing live coverage of the first six games of the second KSL season, as well as Finals Day: the first time that women’s domestic cricket will be shown live on UK television. The inaugural season was a success, attracting 15,465 people to the seventeen matches played, and live television coverage is the next step in the development of the league.

The games will be shown as part of a double header with a men’s NatWest T20 Blast match at the same venue, a tactic that has been used previously with women’s T20 games. It is also a tactic that was used in this year’s WBBL and one that proved highly successful. Twelve games were shown live on free-to-air TV, with nearly six million people watching the games and the final attracting a peak of 690,000 viewers. The games were also streamed live via the Cricket Australia website.

Live coverage on Sky will increase the visibility of the women’s domestic game as well as promote the game to aspiring female cricketers. A study by Women in Sport in 2015 stated that just over 10% of televised sports coverage, and only 2% of newspaper sports coverage, is dedicated to women’s sport. So with such a paucity of coverage of women’s sport, this news is a great shot in the arm for the development of the game. The double headers with T20 Blast games may also provide bigger crowds to see the games first-hand and provide players with the potential to compete in atmospheres similar to their male counterparts.

But there are downsides to linking the KSL so closely with the NatWest T20 Blast, the most obvious issue being ticket prices. People who want to go and see a KSL game within the double headers will presumably have to pay considerably more than they would pay to see a standalone KSL game; will this discourage people from coming to those games?

Another issue is whether this will impact the KSL brand? Whereas the Women’s BBL is an extension of the wider BBL brand, the KSL is its own product and should be marketed as such. It thrived in its debut season despite lack of coverage, as people were eager to see more women’s cricket after England’s dominant displays against Pakistan on home soil. The emergence of players like Tammy Beaumont, Lauren Winfield and Danni Wyatt is proof that the women’s game has stars in its own right, stars that deserve to have the stage all to themselves.

While Sky’s coverage of the KSL will undoubtedly prove to be a boon for the women’s game, one hopes that it won’t be in shadows of the men’s game for too much longer.

Michael Cooper tweets at @m_j_cooper82

Advertisements

5 thoughts on “OPINION: KSL On TV: A Double-Edged Sword?

  1. Not to mention that this means more SL games on weekday daytimes. Last year I went to Lancs Thunder v Yorks Diamonds at Old Trafford on a Friday night. However, right now all 3 Lancs Thunder home matches are slated for 1430 starts, two of these on weekdays – the one at Old Trafford because it precedes a men’s match, and the ones at Liverpool and Blackpool because the grounds have no lights. However I concede that for the wider good of the women’s game the ECB needed to do whatever was necessary to get TV cameras to the matches.

    Like

  2. The 2017 season of women’s cricket will see increased exposure for the game with a months’ worth of ‘coverage’ from June to July and the KSL from 10th August – 1st September, this is great news for the wider game.

    Both competitions should at least be more accessible for the players and supporters of the future with 15/31 ICC games being at weekends and the KSL during the summer holidays.

    The KSL did thrive last season despite competition from other higher profile sporting events, this summer there is less competition from other sports. So this season we should have seen growth without the Olympic distraction.

    However, the women’s European football competition including a far more high profile England team overlaps with the World Cup and is also on terrestrial TV (Channel 4). I know the BBC will provide radio coverage but young cricketers favour social media and many do not access to satellite TV sport at all. A 1/2 an hour slot each week on Sky Sports news for women’s sport is not good enough.

    The Double Header strategy has one big plus point and that is the potential increasing of the game profile, unfortunately I believe the negatives outweigh the positives. For me as a lifelong cricket fan I only occasionally go to men’s T20 games but should I want to support the KSL a double header inflates the price, dictates inconvenient start times and to get’ value for money’ requires I stay for two games of T20 when the whole idea is condense the commitment to a game of cricket not extend it.

    One final point I would make is that the Big Bash and WBBL have been far more successful in making T20 a family friendly environment – T20 cricket in UK is still in some cases harbours a beer match culture. Yes you could leave after the women’s game but that should not be necessary.

    All we can hope is that exposure + success = increased participation and a glorious summer of resurgence for the game

    Like

    • The “beer culture” is my biggest bugbear with much of modern cricket, which is why I love the County Championship so much, and women’s cricket the same. The matches are watched by people who are there to… erm… well, watch the matches.

      I’ve always felt there are three rules for the cricket spectator:

      1. Sit down.
      2. Shut up.
      3. WATCH THE BLOODY CRICKET!

      (I will, of course, make an exception in the case of (2) for the father/mother patiently trying to explain to a son/daughter what is happening)

      I’ve no objection to people having “fun”, far from it. It’s absolutely vital that kids (primarily) are introduced to cricket as exactly that, but different people have vastly different ideas of what “fun” is, and for many it’s the kind of behaviour that impinges on other people’s enjoyment.

      That’s the stage that some, not all, men’s T20 cricket is at – and Test Matches too, much of the time – and it’s why I would never go to a double header. The price for my family of four is not worth it for what we might end up having to endure, to the point of not actually being able to watch any cricket.

      At some point the penny has to drop that the audiences for women’s and men’s cricket are very different. There is a sizeable overlap in those who take a genuine interest in both, of course, but I suspect very little overlap between those who actually go and watch.

      Like

      • Pricing structure was a big concern pre WSL I and charging anything more than a minimum price was highlighted. Now they want fans to pay professional game ticket prices
        (PS Does the WSL host get a share of the gate money or does it all go to the County?)

        Like

  3. Interesting thread, and one in general we should all support. However I do have a couple of (curmudgeonly) comments. First, fewer than 1,000 people watched each game in the KSL according to figures from the article. Then you need to strip out a) those that didnt pay (which judging by the Aegeas Bowl was a lot!) and b) those who went to more than 1 match. The net result is far lower attendance than advertised or promoted. Those who care about the game should acknowledge this and think what can be done.
    Second yes, showing on SKY is better than nothing, but there is a world of difference between PAY TV and Free-to-Air! This is behind the success in Australia, and the ECB should contact Channel 5 and say can you help. There’s no way the BBC will take it.

    Like

Comments are closed.