Australia vs India: ICC T20 World Cup breaks audience record for women's cricket
This tremendous feat, coincidentally on International Women’s Day, marks a potential defining moment for women's cricket and probably will end the age old argument that men should be paid more than women because they are watched more.
The times they are a changin'
The excitement and buzz around the ongoing Women's Twenty20 World Cup has been unprecedented. I don't remember the last time people on and off social media have been this excited for a women's sporting event (we don't like to remember 2017 World Cup final due to the heartbreak).
And this excitement has duly translated into numbers like never before. A whopping 86,174 people turned up at the Melbourne Cricket Ground for Sunday’s final between Australia and India. This breaks all previous records in Women's cricket and almost challenged the record for women's sport (90,185 people at the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup in the United States).
On March 6, ticket sales for the finals surpassed 75,000 and following that, new tickets in a few categories were released.
Amazing crowd, incredible atmosphere. What a day for women's cricket and for gender equality in sport more broadly. All on International Women's Day too. #FILLTHEMCG #T20WorldCup #T20WorldCupFinal #T20WorldCup2020 #IWD2020 #AUSvIND pic.twitter.com/Dyj4uhzid0— Kate O'Halloran (@Kate_ohalloran) March 8, 2020
This tremendous feat, coincidentally on International Women’s Day, marks a potential defining moment for women's sport and probably will end the age old argument that men should be paid more than women because they are watched more.
Even before the T20 World Cup started, the organisers and Cricket Australia had been hoping to break this record and with heavyweights India and Australia in the final, that hope turned into a beautiful reality.
No words pic.twitter.com/uRDTLEBKDE— Australian Women's Cricket Team ???? (@AusWomenCricket) March 8, 2020
Not only this, as a mark of overall interest in this T20 World Cup, ICC confirmed that it has been the most watched women's cricket event in history.
According to ICC data, the opening match between India and Australia saw a reach of 20 million and average audience of 3.5 million in India. This is 39 percent higher than the most watched match at the 2018 edition of the ICC Women’s World Twenty20.
The first 12 matches of the 2020 Women's T20 World Cup attracted 2.4 billion viewing minutes in India — a 213 percent increase as against the 2018 edition which saw 787 million viewing minutes.
But these numbers hardly reflect how the conversation around women's cricket has changed.
Senior reporter and writer for The Guardian, Megan Maurice, says, "the conversation has shifted and the media coverage along with it. Whereas once there was a semi-regular stream of opinion columns from earnest men deploring the lack of coverage of women’s sport before getting back to their regular routine of writing about men’s sport, now there are match reports and analysis pieces about every game. The day after the semi-final, the winning moments were plastered all over the front and back pages of major newspapers across the country. Women’s cricket is being covered and spoken about the way that followers of the sport have always wanted – as if it was just cricket."
So it is likely the world record crowd won’t remain an anomaly. The positive trend might be able to answer business-dudebros who wave "women's cricket doesn't have money because it doesn't have viewers" card whenever the disparity in pay is highlighted.
Something about small steps becoming giant leaps?