The BBC’s audience for the Hundred is dropping by as much as 20% in a setback for cricket bosses overseeing the format’s second year.
A drop from an average of 615,000 per game last summer to just over 500,000 this campaign comes despite exceptional numbers for test match highlights.
Ben Stokes and the England team are now getting over a million BBC Two numbers, double the current average of the Hundred.
Data obtained by Telegraph Sport shows a particular slump for the new competition in recent weeks:
August 28: 490,000 watched Birmingham Phoenix men versus Manchester Originals (a 6.7% drop from the normal BBC Two audience at the time).
August 24: 260,000 watched London Spirit women versus Welsh Fire women, while 570,000 tuned in for the men’s match (8% fewer than the regular crowd).
August 22: 320,000 watched the women’s afternoon game Welsh Fire vs Southern Brave women, while 480,000 watched the next men’s game (7% fewer).
August 14: 500,000 Northern Superchargers men vs London Spirit men (+ 2.9%, with spectators tuned in after the Euro 2022 women’s football final).
11 August: 510,000 watched Oval Invincibles men versus Northern Superchargers men (down seven percent).
Overall, broadcasters’ Audience Research Board data cautiously suggests viewing was down about 18.9% from last year’s tournament, when the two 2021 finals were not included.
There has been a lot of hype surrounding The Hundred’s launch last summer and sources close to the BBC have suggested that there may be a number of factors behind the drop in viewership rather than a specific drop in interest in the format.
Tom Harrington, analyst at Enders Analysis, said: “Perhaps up to half of that decrease you could attribute to the general decline in TV viewing, while the rest would be due to a combination of projector quality, slot competition and loss of interest in TV viewing. event itself “.
The BBC numbers paint only a partial picture as coverage is shared with Sky Sports, but the pay station’s viewing figures were not available for a similar comparison. Whatever the reason for the decline in viewership, the numbers will be for England and Wales Cricket Board, as the Hundred have had such a promising start on the BBC.
Last season, the opening match, the women’s match between Oval Invincibles and Manchester Originals, peaked at 1.6 million viewers on the BBC, with an additional 180,000 people streaming live on BBC iPlayer, a record for any match. women’s cricket on the BBC. This year, the Hundred’s opening match between last year’s champions Southern Brave and Welsh Fire attracted less than half of the crowd that raised the 2021 – 550,000 curtain.
Despite the audience figures, ticket sales have been very good with most of the pitches full for hundreds of matches outside Cardiff.
Total viewing figures on the BBC were only slightly below the peak of 1.7 million viewers who had seen England’s Twenty20 men’s match against Pakistan the previous Sunday.
The ECB has already faced years of criticism for blocking cricket behind the Sky paywall. The BBC said when contacted by Telegraph Sport: “We are very proud of BBC Sport’s full coverage of The Hundred.
“He opened the world of cricket to a new audience with millions of people tuning in to follow him on our platforms.”