The head of the KFC BBL has celebrated the competition’s ability to fight off the relentless challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic to record the most-watched season in its 10-year history.
BBL|10 culminated at the SCG last night where 25,295 fans watched the Sydney Sixers beat the Perth Scorchers, with a further 1.31 million viewers (according to MediaWeek) tuned in to watch the home side make it back-to-back titles.
Across the 61 matches, a total of 41.17 million viewers watched BBL|10, up 1.4 per cent from BBL|09. When you add streaming figures to that tally, BBL|10 is the most watched since the competition expanded to a full home-and-away season three years ago, and the most viewed Big Bash tournament ever.
Alongside the record viewership numbers, more than 500,000 people attended matches in person in BBL|10, a staggering figure given the restrictions on crowd sizes around the country.
Cricket Australia's Head of Big Bash Leagues, Alistair Dobson, said the record numbers reflect the passion Australians have for the BBL, regardless of the challenges the tournament faced this summer.
"It shows how popular the Big Bash is and how passionate people are about it," Dobson told cricket.com.au.
"To have the most-watched BBL season in its short history is such a great indication of how popular it is.
"It also shows how good the cricket has been this year and people just kept tuning in night after night.
"It's really rewarding and a great reflection of our clubs, players and everyone involved."
Dobson says there were several sleepless nights as the pandemic continued to throw up obstacles during the season.
Border closures caused by outbreaks around the country meant CA had to make changes on the run, the most recent being the late shift of Perth’s home final to Canberra after the Western Australian capital went into a five-day lockdown.
Dobson said the way clubs, players, broadcasters and governments communicated and worked together to get the season off the ground was a testament to what can be achieved, adding that last-minute decisions were made this summer that would have been unthinkable in a pre-pandemic world.
"Our ability to move games late in the tournament had a lot to do with the trust we've built with different health departments around the country or different governments or venues," he said.
"I think that speaks a lot to the quality of our medical team and our bio-security experts (and) government relations people that, behind the scenes, did an incredible job to keep those lines open and allow us to keep moving.
"It shows what Australian cricket can do when everyone leans in and commits to an outcome, we can get amazing things done."
While BBL|10 has only just finished, Dobson is already looking ahead to BBL|11.
Next season poses a new set of challenges given it will be an Ashes summer, which will follow the World T20 in India, but Dobson says the BBL will again be creative with its scheduling
He used the example of this season, when day matches were played before the day-night Test in Adelaide and double-headers were held after the opening days of the Melbourne and Sydney Tests, as a sign of what can be achieved despite a busy international schedule.
And the success of BBL|10, with its record viewership and new rules that included the addition of a third international player, has Dobson believing the competition has "incredible momentum" heading into next summer.
"There's a sense that the BBL has found it's next kick into what will be a great BBL|11," he said.
"We've been really encouraged by the innovation we've introduced, we're finding players from overseas are incredibly keen to come and play in the BBL and there is still that passion of our domestic players to still be a part of it.
"We're really excited about BBL|11. This year is one of the best, if not the best seasons, and next year is shaping up to go again."
BBL|10 Finals Series (all matches will screen on Channel 7, Fox Cricket & Kayo)
The Eliminator: Brisbane Heat (4) beat Adelaide Strikers (5) by six wickets
The Qualifier: Sydney Sixers (1) beat Perth Scorchers (2) by nine wickets
The Knock-Out: Brisbane Heat (4) beat Sydney Thunder (3) by seven wickets
The Challenger: Perth Scorchers (2) beat Brisbane Heat (4) by 49 runs (DLS)