The cricket slog-fest known as the Big Bash returned to Ten last night and carried on from where it left off last year – proving a ratings success.
Last night’s game between Sydney rivals the Thunder and the Sixers drew an audience of 834,000 metro viewers according to the OzTam figures. However, the second session saw the audience drop away to 761,000.
The result had the Big Bash as the third most watched program of the evening behind Seven’s news and Today Tonight. In fact, the top 10 shows were dominated by news programs (cricket aside). Nine’s news programs ranked fourth and fifth, the ABC came in at seventh, A Current Affair was the eighth most watched show, Seven’s The Chase was ninth and 7.30 rounded out the top 10.
However, Ten’s success with the Big Bash could be its own undoing. A new TV rights deal is due in 2018 and arch-rival Nine is said to be very keen on adding the shorter, TV-friendly competition to its existing cricket programming.
Despite having denied wanting the domestic 20-20 competition in the past, in late November Nine’s director of sport, Tom Malone, declared “we want everything”, which industry watchers took as them throwing their hat in the ring for the Big Bash rights.
Nine’s ratings for its traditional cricket offering – Tests and 50 over matches – are down, mirroring fans’ decreasing appetite for the longer forms of the game.
In November, Malone said: “We want Test matches, we want one-dayers, we want [international] Twenty20s and we want the Big Bash.
“We’ve just got to try and find a way to make it work, but certainly there is a strong desire from the Wide World of Sports and from Nine more broadly to maintain our proud history with cricket,” he said.