From TV Broadcast to Emojis: The many firsts at ICC Women’s World Cup 20172 min read
Not known to many, the Indian Women’s Cricket team had made an appearance at the 2005 Women’s World Cup Final, eventually losing to the traditional powerhouse, Australia. Twelve years later, Mithali Raj’s side suffered a heartbreak again in the final, only this time, people were watching.
Forty-four years after the inaugural edition (two years before the inaugural men’s world cup), the Women’s World Cup has finally broken ground. As England tasted success for an impressive fourth time, the 2017 edition was the first of the eleven editions of the tournament where all 31 matches were broadcast live. The coverage was available in 139 countries on TV and in around 200 territories on various digital platforms, marking an 80 percent increase in global viewership from the 2013 edition held in India. With a total reach of almost 52 million at the culmination of the league stage, the tournament saw a 47 percent rise among the Indian TV audience.
This year’s edition of the Women’s World Cup was also the most rewarding. England pocketed a cash prize of $660,000 USD for their victorious campaign. The total prize money of $2 million USD, though six times lesser than what the men were paid in 2015, was still significant, with a 900 percent increase from the previous edition. In a first for the Women’s tournament, all participating nations fielded fully professional sides.
The average ticket sales were also considerably higher than any of the previous editions at almost 1,700 for each of the league encounters. In a first, tickets were sold on a 50-50 basis to women and men, resulting in half of the total 47 thousand spectators being females.
Apart from the uncertain but visible presence of the Umpire’s Decision Review System (DRS) in 10 games, the sold-out summit clash between India and England at Lord’s witnessed the Spidercam and drone cameras making their debut in the women’s arena. In a step towards extensive digitisation of the game, an official mobile app was launched, which included pulse polls, a fantasy game, and a plethora of video content which garnered as many as 75 million cumulative views. Taking cues from the IPL, special twitter emojis for captains of the eight participating nations were launched – a first for any global women’s sporting event. The run up to the event included numerous Q&A sessions with players and other special guests on social media platforms.
Though off to a solid start towards gender parity in the ‘Gentleman’s Game’, it remains to be seen how much cricket is played by the ladies in the next three years, with the ICC Women’s Championship guaranteeing only seven bilateral series for each team as the means for direct qualification to the 2021 World Cup.
Edited by Pravin C
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