Cricket: Why The Hundred is a chance to prove Women’s Sport is commercially viable

The Oval

Tickets for the ECB’s new flagship competition The Hundred are now on general sale, which includes the opening women’s game between the Oval Invincibles and the Manchester Originals.

The ECB has chosen to feature a women’s match as the inaugural fixture in a standalone contest at the Kia Oval, in what could prove to be a groundbreaking and potentially era-defining moment in both the future of women’s cricket and the widespread battle for gender equality.

New research from the Women’s Sport Trust shows that revenue gained through women’s sport is set to grow to £1 billion a year by 2030, up from £350 million a year currently. To unlock this growth requires increased visibility towards female athletes and teams.

This means marketing events in a way where the athletes themselves can resonate with audiences. Half of the UK have attended a women’s sporting event at some point, yet there is often a lack of opportunity to engage with these sports long term and fans may understandably struggle to maintain an interest in a specific team or player when it’s so hard to follow their progress.

Tammy Parlour MBE, Chief Executive and Co-Founder of the Women’s Sports Trust stressed:

“Women’s sport has been on a strong growth trajectory. However, most sport played by elite female athletes still has a long way to go until it becomes commercially viable.

“To achieve long-lasting change, and for women’s sport to occupy a central role in our culture in the UK, the sports industry must widely recognise a social responsibility to building sport for all, and practically connect a vision for women’s sport to long-term commercial profit.”

But, to garner more recognition, generate more revenue and ultimately earn the respect that women’s sport deserves then fans need to act on the opportunities that come their way.

The Hundred is the perfect chance to do exactly this. The ECB deserves tremendous credit for giving this new competition the same platform for both men and women and it’s time to prove that this was the correct decision.

Whether you’re an existing cricket fan or a newcomer to the game, it doesn’t matter. This is a new competition, with new rules and new teams. Pick your allegiances, follow their schedule and be part of a tournament that could one day prove to be cricket’s greatest attraction.

We’ve seen the interest in women’s cricket is already there. Over 80,000 people packed the Melbourne Cricket Ground for the T20 World Cup final in 2020, while England’s 20 over series against West Indies last year had a peak audience of over one million.

So let’s support this competition, spread the message and invite your friends, even if they’ve never watched the game before.

All the foundations are in place for a historic summer of cricket, and who knows –– if we do see a sellout at the Oval this July, a women’s game opening the tournament may not be seen as revolutionary in the future, but tradition.

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