The impressive TV numbers for the Rebel Women's Big Bash League has convinced Network Ten to move January's Melbourne derby to their main broadcast channel.
The WBBL made its television debut last weekend on Ten's secondary channel ONE HD, with a peak audience of 427,000 viewers tuning in and an average of 220,000 across two matches.
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The figures are three times the average audience for free-to-air A-League matches so far this season and the strong numbers have convinced Ten that the first ever derby between the Stars and the Renegades on Saturday January 2 deserves to be shown on the main channel.
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The afternoon match at the MCG will be hosted by Mel McLaughlin with former players Mel Jones and Lisa Sthalekar to join Andy Maher in the commentary box.
Ten's Head of Sport David Barham says the appeal of Stars captain Meg Lanning, who on Wednesday was crowned the ICC's ODI Player of the Year, was another factor in their decision to show the match on Channel 10.
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"She's the best women’s cricketer in the world and it’s a good chance for everyone to have a look and see how good Meg Lanning is," Barham told News Corp.
"She's an Australian sportsperson that everyone knows and if we’ve got a chance to showcase any elite sportsperson, female or male, we’ll take it.
"A lot of people will enjoy watching Meg Lanning bat.
"I think this is worth a shot.
"The numbers (for the WBBL) have been really good and we want to have a look and see what happens.
" ... there’s only one way to find out.
"The quality of the coverage has an impact on what people think of the players without a shadow of a doubt and (making the broadcast as professional as the men’s BBL) is a subtle thing but something we see as really important."
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The WBBL derby is part of a bumper day of Big Bash cricket on Ten; the men's BBL Melbourne derby will follow the women's game at the MCG from 6.10pm before the Scorchers will host the Sixers in Perth from 9.15pm eastern time.
The first ever season of the WBBL got underway on December 5, 12 days before the men's tournament started, with strong crowds turning out across the country.
"We’re thrilled with the strong start to the Rebel Women’s Big Bash League and want to continue to create a groundswell around the league to inspire as many girls as possible to take up cricket," said Ben Amarfio, Cricket Australia's Executive General Manager for Media, Communications & Marketing.
"We are committed to changing the perception about cricket being a male domain. We unashamedly created this league to inspire young girls to understand that cricket is a game for girls too.
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"It is still early days but we are very pleased with how the WBBL has been accepted. We have had terrific support from the media and commercial partners such as Rebel.
"In time the crowds will build but for the moment it is about exposing the game to as many people as possible and we feel that this move of putting the WBBL’s Melbourne Derby on Ten’s primary channel will do just that."
A total of eight WBBL matches will be broadcast on Ten or ONE HD this season, the next of which is the New Year's Eve clash between the Strikers and the Scorchers on ONE.