Welcome to this summer’s big experiment with sport.
Channel Seven has successfully negotiated through its first few days as the broadcaster of test cricket - at least as far as delivering a product viewers could like.
We won’t of course know until the ratings are produced to know whether in fact they did.
The technical delivery looks fine – especially in high definition where the close-ups give good insight into what’s going on out there on the field.
But the broadcasters and the sport have a lot of ground to make up for the previous occasion when a close-up shot or two revealed more than was expected.
For sure there will be a fascination with a new telecaster – and much like a new political leader in the opinion polls it should be expected that the first ratings might be favourable to Seven.
But that will quickly morph more into interest about the quality of the performance on the field.
At the matches themselves, the crowds will probably hold up – as much due to the fervent patriotism of Indians residing in Australia as anything else.
The Indian population has a fascination with the game of cricket only it fully understands. It seems to be even more so when they are away from home.
Indian and expat fans will be out in force – and may well be the saviours of the 2018-19 summer of cricket. Not much as gone right for the administrators of Australian cricket this year but this bit of scheduling has been a godsend.
But there’s another big call they have made which might make or break one of their more successful experiments of recent times.
The Big Bash has gone from some tentative beginnings and a token television rights deal to a very effective and engaging product.
But there’s a school of thought that much of this is the result of timing. Let’s face it apart from Carols by Candlelight there’s never been much to watch on the box at night from the week before Christmas until the tennis starts.
The Big Bash has gone from some tentative beginnings and a token television rights deal to a very effective and engaging product.Brian Roe
For whatever reason the programming boffins and ratings gurus have always regarded December and January as down time
Enter BBL in its cosy 7.30pm onwards timeslot once curfew has been called on the beach or the pool and the barbeque is fired up.
Its attractiveness is much about leaving it on in the background as an alternate to background music until someone notices that a decent enough crescendo is building to demand a more significant standard of viewing.
That works magnificently over the festive season and on towards mid-January. Whether that can be sustained into the second and third weeks of February once school has gone back and most of the country has returned to work and normal routines is a big question.
CA’s decision to expand the roster and extend the season to February 17 will be much analysed.
Having each franchise play each other twice is a good move for generating interest with home fans but could have been achieved without extending the season by too much.
Unlike the AFL and NRL there seems to be a reluctance to play two games at the same time or even over-lapping. But even if that was a not negotiable then more double headers, albeit at different venues could have been a solution.
And not to forget that the tennis television rights baton has passed from Seven to Nine. After some on again off again negotiations in the middle of the year, Channel Nine will begin hosting the Australian Open as from this coming edition.
In some ways this won’t be as big a learning curve for those at Nine as was the case for their colleagues at Seven with the cricket. They have after all been showing the big overseas tournaments for some time.
But there they haven’t had to produce the content - other than the odd pan to a studio host.
Channel Seven produced exceptional coverage of tennis on television for a long time. It’s a huge challenge for Nine to try to match or better it.