The season is over for our Epic Brisbane Heat WBBL team, and while they didn’t make the WBBL01 finals it’s hard to view our initial foray into supporting women’s cricket as anything other than an outstanding success.
WBBL matches have drawn fantastic crowds around the country, in addition to such strong TV audience numbers that the matches were quickly moved from their original schedule on secondary channel OneHD to the main Network 10 screen.
Brisbane Heat played in the first televised game of the season at the Gabba, which drew 250 000 viewers on OneHD. We got a great early insight into the fact that a whole lot of people were watching well before the ratings came out, as while we were at the game our phones were lighting up like Christmas trees from all the messages coming in telling us how fantastic the Epic Pharmacy signage looked on screen!
Audiences for other games have reached up to 400 000 viewers on the main Network 10 channel, which is even more impressive when you consider that A-league soccer averages around 78 000 viewers on SBS2. I think the inaugural season of the WBBL has proven without a shadow of a doubt that the crowd enthusiasm that has existed for Twenty20 BBL sinces its inception translates across to the women’s version, and I’m sure the numbers for season 2 will be bigger and better again.
While we were confident that the WBBL concept would work, our motivation in signing up as the inaugural principal Brisbane Heat WBBL sponsors was never driven by traditional brand exposure considerations – although we did get fantastic visibility from both the logos on the shirts and the awesome signage at the Gabba! As a healthcare company we’re all about promoting the benefits that a healthy lifestyle delivers, and with an 82% female workforce it’s important for us to place our corporate financial support where it benefits women in sport, and our teams across the country were quick to let us know they agreed wholeheartedly.
Our other goal at the start of the season was to do our best to try and provide networking and mentoring opportunities for the girls as they navigate the necessary juggle between studying and/or working plus training and playing commitments, and we really enjoyed meeting up with the team in a variety of environments. They joined us at the Business Chicks breakfast with Carolyn Cresswell, where Carolyn’s messages couldn’t have been better tailored around the benefits that hard work, sacrifice and commitment can deliver, and I know they resonated deeply with many of the girls. A number of them also joined us in the Epic Pharmacy box at the Gabba during the first Test of the summer, where they again represented themselves completely professionally while chatting with the other corporate guests.
We’ve had an absolutely brilliant first season with Brisbane Heat WBBL, and have loved every moment of our involvement, not only in watching what has been an incredibly exciting and engaging season of cricket, but in getting to know a truly fantastic group of young women who are sure to go on to enjoy great careers both on and off the field.