Big Bash League jumps into top 10 of most attended sports leagues in the world

Posted on 05/12/2018 by

Players’ union chief warns T20 will kill Test cricket

The Big Bash League has burst into the top 10 most attended sports leagues in the world.

Organisers of the Twenty20 tournament, in its fifth edition, are still trying to digest the enormity of the 80,883 crowd that turned up to the MCG for the derby between the Stars and Renegades a week ago.

The upcoming Sydney derby next Saturday is also poised to be an SCG domestic record of up to 42,000, an attendance that will only help drive the average crowd figures further north.

The late-season average of 28,279 before Sunday’s two games has propelled the BBL to ninth position on the list of the world’s most attended sports leagues, nudging ahead of Japan’s professional baseball league (28,248) and Indian Super League football (26,376) and ensuring the Canadian Football League (24,737) and Italy’s Serie A (23,001) are absent from the top 10.

The BBL clearly has a far smaller sample size than other competitions that fill spots inside and around the top 10. There were only 24 games played before Sunday’s two matches between Hobart and Perth, and Sydney Sixers and Brisbane with a total attendance of nearly 700,000.

By contrast, the world’s biggest league, the NFL, drew in excess of 17 million fans to its stadiums in the 2015 regular season. Major League Baseball comes in seventh with an average of 30,517 but with teams playing 162 games a season had a total attendance of more than 73 million.

Even so, a rise of nearly 5000 spectators per game and the place in the global top 10 to date this season is another representation of the fast emerging success of the BBL.

“That’s flattering, given that the competition is only five years’ old, to be in the company of some of those really established sports leagues,” Big Bash manager Anthony Everard said on Sunday. “Having said that it’s obviously not really our focus. Our focus is on our own backyard and making sure we continue to appeal to kids and families. That is as satisfying to us as perhaps some of those big numbers on a global scale.”

The Big Bash figures are obviously improved by the massive crowd at the MCG.

“I think that number has been a real eye-opener for us,” Everard said. “If I reflect on the first few years of the Big Bash we were astounded by mid-20,000s and I think we had 30,000 at the Gabba one night. Those were considered at the time to be fantastic numbers.

“Here we are eight or 10 days after that MCG game and we’re still trying to get our heads around 80,00 fans at a Big Bash game. It gives us a real cause to reconsider where the opportunities are for the BBL and the growth available not just for Melbourne but all the other markets as well.

“We’ve stated that at the end of the season we’re going to consider our options. I guess we sort of think of it as growth rather than expansion and it can take many different forms.

“It could potentially be more games … we’ve already gone on the record to say we’re not considering introducing new teams at the moment. We haven’t put a time frame on that. We’re not going to get caught up in its success this year and make too many knee-jerk reactions.”

Top 10 most watched sports leagues (average crowds, 2015/16)

1. NFL 68,278

2. German Bundesliga 43,331

3. US College Football Division I FBL 43,288

4. English Premier League 36,464

5. AFL 33,428

6. Indian Premier League 31,750*

7. Major League Baseball 30,517

8. La Liga 28,498

9. Big Bash League 28,279

10. Nippon Professional Baseball 28,248

* IPL figures are from 2014 tournament when first 20 games were played in the UAE and are unofficial.

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