Ashes fever makes cricket most popular sport in Australia once again

Sydney, July 16 (ANI): The response of the Australian public to the first Ashes Test reinforces the game's popularity in Australia according to Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland.

"While we didn't get the on-field result that we all wanted last night, the response to the performances of the team at Trent Bridge was overwhelming.

"The first Test delivered record numbers on CA's digital platforms, extremely strong ratings for the Nine Network, while ABC Radio reported an overwhelming reaction to its comprehensive digital and ball-by-ball coverage.

"The Test reached an incredible 9.35m combined viewers across GEM and Fox Sports. The first session on day two averaged 720,000 viewers nationally on GEM making it the highest audience on a secondary digital platform ever.

"On Fox Sports, last night's opening session was the second highest audience for the year on subscription TV, while there were almost 40,000 plays of ABC Radio's Grandstand Digital during the Test and its iTunes page recorded a 444% increase in subscriptions.

"You only have to look at the blanket media coverage to understand how the series has captured the imagination of the Australian public.

"We're in the middle of winter playing a series on the other side of the world, yet the nation's attention and discussion is focused squarely on cricket. Interest will only build this week ahead of the second Test starting at Lord's on Thursday. The match starts the day after tickets to the international cricket season in Australia go on sale to the general public.

"The popularity of the first Test highlights the affection for the game at all levels in communities across Australia and supports cricket's place as the number one participation sport in the country.

"According to our annual independent and rigorous research, cricket ranked number one in 2011-12 with almost 900,000 participants, with AFL number two and soccer third. We're preparing to announce another big participation increase for 2012-13 soon.

"While some sports may focus on particular strengths in selective demographics, overall, across all demographics, the Census data shows cricket is Australia's number one participation sport.

"We're confident that based on our extensive independent research, cricket outperforms all other sports on every KPI across viewership, attendance, passion, interest, share of voice and every form of digital media engagement across the period from October to March.

"Cricket has been and will continue to be transparent with its participation figures which are made public via our website cricket.com.au.

"Despite our strong position and the spikes we see during the Ashes, we continue to be sharply focused on growing our game and ensuring its place as a sport of choice for all Australians.

"Tickets to the 2013-14 international season go on sale to the general public this Wednesday. There was a terrific response from Australian Cricket Family members during the pre-sale period two weeks ago, so fans will need to act quickly to secure their place at the Commonwealth Bank Ashes Series, Carlton Mid One Day Series or KFC T20 Internationals this summer. There will be 33 days of international cricket this summer for fans to show their support against our oldest cricketing rival." (ANI)

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