The 2020 Women’s T20 Challenge (WT20C) has to be one of the best “feel good” stories of 2020. The WT20C logged 5.34 billing minutes in viewership in India according to recent reports. Compared to last year’s 2.20 billion minutes, that’s 2.45 times larger this year. Among other stats, 105 million unique viewers tuned into the three-team competition compared to 71 million in 2019.
The data was obtained from ESPNcricinfo from Broadcast Audience Research Council India and Star. The report stated that this year’s tournament recorded a 147% increase among view minutes, 47% increase in unique views, and was aired across 11 Star Sports channels compared to eight last year. Given that the pandemic has forced a lot of struggles to sports, this was quite the score from the women of India.
All on their Own
The tournament was dubbed “financially independent” after earning a title sponsor, as well as multiple official sponsors. The original plans wanted a four-team tourney, but it was played with three. That didn’t matter to fans who took to Betway Cricket to try and score big on their favorite team. The Trailblazers ultimately won the tournament, but the real win was the viewership.
The pandemic swung a huge blow to sports across the world. While women’s cricket was just one of many casualties, the news of these numbers showed that plenty of people remained interested in the sport. Young girls in India were able to watch these athletes play and give them the hope that they could one day accomplish this as well.
The numbers were concrete. There were no mood changes or need for personality tests. When it was all said and done, the general public wanted to watch the women of India play cricket. India’s success in making the final helped make the event the most-watched ICC women’s T20 even in history. This wasn’t only a win for women’s sports, but the country as well.
What does that mean for the future? Could we see a jump in the numbers? Could marketability in women’s cricket in the country increase? There’s a real chance that this could be the break that the sport and its athletes needed.
A Significant Change
To begin, it’s an encouraging sign because such a jump gives the league power to start early negotiations with sponsors. The data supports that this was the place to be. The smart move would be to reach out to sponsor and try and strike some initial deals. The business side will take care of itself, but there’s an even bigger narrative here.
Stereotypes with women in sports have been long going on for years. The idea is that with such a high volume of viewers, young women can be interested in participating in the future. If that happens, that would be a generation shift that we have never seen before in India. Either way, in a year filled with negative headlines, this was one of the better ones to read in 2020.