Records Broken in Successful WBBL|04 Season
The popularity of the Rebel Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) continued in its fourth season as attendance, viewership and player performances were once again highlights of one of the world’s best cricket competitions.
WBBL|04 attracted 135,861 fans across the 59-game season as records tumbled, with an average of 2,384 fans turning out per match, the highlight of the season coming in the Final with a sell-out crowd of 5,368 witnessing the first ever standalone WBBL Final in which the Brisbane Heat were crowned champions for the first time.
In a League first, both Semi-Finals and the Final were standalone fixtures from the men’s competition, ensuring that the top ranked teams played in front of their home crowds in WBBL|04. This proved to be a popular move with fans, with 8,735 spectators attending the two action-packed days of Finals at Drummoyne Oval.
The stand-alone attendance record for the WBBL was broken when 5,650 fans showed up to watch the Brisbane Heat play the Adelaide Strikers at Harrup Park, Mackay on Saturday 5 January.
The WBBL attendance record at Optus Stadium was also broken this season, as 14,983 attended the Perth Scorchers Boxing Day Bash against the Brisbane Heat. The New Year’s Day Melbourne Derby was also a hit with fans, with 11,136 in attendance to see the Stars take on the Renegades.
In WBBL|04, games were taken to more locations across the county than ever before, with the highlight of the expansion being the inaugural fixture at Cazaly’s Stadium, Cairns, which attracted a strong attendance of 4,673.
Records were smashed on-field this season, with more runs being scored and more boundaries being hit than WBBL|03, with 1,576 fours and 270 sixes being scored, compared to 1,428 and 207 sixes in WBBL|03.
More 150+ totals (39) were scored in WBBL|04 than in all three previous editions of the tournament combined (37), with the rate that runs were scored also at an all-time high.
Sydney Sixers all-rounder and captain, Ellyse Perry, was the standout player of the tournament after producing a record-breaking season with the bat. Perry amassed 777 runs at an incredible average of 86.33, with two centuries and six half-centuries to her name. Her stellar season saw her break the record for most runs in a WBBL season previously held by Perth Scorchers captain, Meg Lanning (560), while she also contributed with the ball, claiming ten wickets.
Other highlights included a brilliant century to Melbourne Stars’ South African recruit Lizelle Lee on opening weekend, along with Sixers’ duo Alyssa Healy (112*) and Player of the Tournament Ellyse Perry (102* & 103*) who also passed the 100-mark.
Brisbane Heat big-hitter Grace Harris also set a new league record for fastest century, scoring her ton off just 42 balls before Christmas. A total of five centuries were hit across WBBL|04, with only four having been scored in the competition’s history prior to this season.
The bowlers also had a big impact on the competition, with over 630 wickets taken across the season. Delissa Kimmince and Heather Graham were the leaders with the ball with 22 wickets each, while Marizanne Kapp and Sammy-Jo Johnson were next best with 20 each.
WBBL|04 also continued the popularity of the competition with TV audiences, averaging 212,000 viewers across Seven and Fox Cricket during the season. The Hurricanes vs Heat match on 30 December broadcast on Seven and Fox Cricket was a highlight, breaking the record for the most-watched regular season WBBL game ever, with a combined average audience of 433,000 viewers.
TV audiences for the Finals Series were outstanding, with the Final between the Heat and Sixers becoming the most watched WBBL game ever with a combined average audience of 479,000, peaking at 812,000.
Semi-Final viewership was up 82% YOY, with the Sydney Sixers vs. Renegades match achieving a national average audience of 372,000, peaking at 650,000 during the super over climax. The Sydney Thunder vs. Brisbane Heat Semi-Final also had a strong national average audience of 226,000.
Fans were also able to tune into the WBBL this season via radio calls by the ABC.
The WBBL|04 Finals Series was dedicated to Dolly’s Dream in an effort to help create a positive change in the community and prevent bullying, with 100% of all ticket sales going to the charity.
WBBL|04 also had a big impact with online audiences, with over 3.8 million highlight views recorded on YouTube and almost 10 million minutes viewed on the Cricket Network’s live stream, with a 38% rise of minutes viewed in Australia compared to last season. All non-televised matches were streamed live and free on cricket.com.au and the CA Live App.
Head of Big Bash, Kim McConnie reflected on the record breaking season:
"The Rebel WBBL continues to go from strength to strength this season and it has been a fantastic to see the League be so successful once again as it continues to cement itself as one of the best competitions in the world.
“Fans had a lot to enjoy across WBBL|04 and we couldn’t be happier with how the season came to an end, with record breaking attendance and TV viewership across the Finals Series.
“Once again, the talent of so many players continue to flourish with so many incredible on-field performances witnessed throughout the season.
“These performances are helping the growing popularity of the women’s game in Australia and we are excited to see such great interest in the competition as the WBBL continues to inspire young girls to understand that cricket is a game for girls too, and that they can make a career from the sport.
“The success of WBBL|04 clearly reinforces that the women’s competition deserves a standalone window and its own platform away from the men’s competition.
“We can now look ahead with confidence to our first ever standalone season which will commence later this year with WBBL|05."
Channel 7 Executive Producer - Cricket, Chris Jones, said:
"It was an absolute privilege for everyone at 7Cricket to broadcast WBBL|04.
“The depth of talent in the Women's game made for such a brilliant tournament highlighted by the most spectacular finals series.
“We saw some incredible performances from Australian players including Ellyse Perry's record breaking season. The emergence of many more stars and stories made it incredibly compelling television.
“The players gave so much of themselves not just as professional athletes, but also as people, and the audience engaged in record numbers.
“We had a lot of fun along the way. For that we thank them and the fans and say... Bring on WBBL|05."
Head of Fox Sports, Peter Campbell, said:
“Following Fox Cricket’s live broadcast of the ICC Women’s World T20 in November, the WBBL picked up exactly where our World Champion Australian Women’s team left off.
“The WBBL was a great success for cricket and our talented athletes - and our fans at home watched it all in record numbers.
“Great cricket played by the best cricketers is a recipe for increased crowds and audiences - and our Fox Cricket viewers loved every ball - and the numbers and engagement across all technologies and devices proved just that.”