Channel Ten's Successful Big Bash League Coverage Setting Example For Channel 9
Channel Ten's five-year, A$100M ($78.4M) contract with Cricket Australia for the Big Bash League represents the productive union of a sporting authority "keen to broaden its code's appeal, specifically to women and children, and a TV network keen to establish its credentials in a significant area of sports broadcasting," according to Debi Enker of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. Ten has "changed the way that cricket is covered on TV," developing an approach to "suit the fast-paced, action-oriented brand of the game and influencing other broadcasters with its initiatives." A "chatty, chummy tone was established early." The commentators, most of them former players, "appeared looking smart casual: no stuffy shirts and ties for this team." And "everyone has a nickname, as if to signal their friendship and project informality." Reflecting on some of the key decisions about the style of coverage, Ten Head of Sport David Barham said, "It was a deliberate strategy to put our guys on camera and make them part of the game." This approach "clearly influenced" Channel 9, the "long-standing TV home" of test cricket series, one day internationals and T20 matches. Nine ditched the shirts and ties in favor of matching polo shirts, and the "drive to appear friendlier and funnier is also evident." Ten's BBL coverage has "demonstrated a spirit of innovation from the get-go." It incorporated women into the commentary team -- which Nine has "glaringly failed to do." Barham said that while Ten endeavored to "be inventive," it also had to "exercise restraint." Barham: "We've learned that the BBL goes so fast and they bowl the ball so quickly -- sometimes there's 12 or 14 seconds between deliveries -- you don't have time to do much in between" (SMH, 1/2).