Recent innovations in cricket such as the Twenty20 format have created a more broad-based appeal for the sport. It has caught the imagination of women, the young and old alike according to results from the Sponsoring 21+ study conducted by Sport+Markt in the four key cricket markets of India, United Kingdom, South Africa and Australia. It is evident that cricket is beginning to draw a much younger and wider demographic base on TV.
“Cricket is finally attracting the attention of non-traditional cricket audiences – the more hard to reach demographic groups of women and youth”, states Ravi Chavan, cricket expert at Sport+Markt. There has been a significant increase in women following cricket on TV in
the United Kingdom (+12%) and South Africa (+6%) between 2008 and 2009.
Similarly, during the same period, cricket has also experienced an increase amongst the target audience of 16-29 year olds in countries such as Australia (+5%) and South Africa (+4%), whereas there was a marginal decrease of one percentage point in India and the United Kingdom. However, given the fact that there has been an overall increase in the following of cricket on TV in India (+ 5 %) and the United Kingdom (+1%),the total number of 16-29 year olds following cricket on TV has nevertheless increased in 2009 as compared to 2008. This trend is further expected to continue, as the Twenty20 cricket format matures and attracts a greater number of viewers.
“Twenty20 format is primarily designed for television and with its high octane contests appeals to women and young people, whose attention is much craved by sponsors and advertisers alike”, the Sport+Markt project manager emphasised.
Interesting to note is the considerable decline in the 30-44 years old age category in all the countries. This can be partly attributed to the fact that this category represents the traditional cricketing audience, which are more inclined towards the longer version of the game and have a cynical view towards the new format. On the other hand there has been a considerable increase in the 45 plus age category in all the countries.
However, from a long term perspective, according to Ravi Chavan, the challenge for cricket’s governing bodies will be to sustain the spectator appeal of these valuable new found audiences, and more importantly to find a way to resurrect the declining interest in Test cricket.