Cape Town - The consistent presence of some of the best Proteas players has had a favourable impact, it seems, on this season’s Ram Slam T20 Challenge.
Sport24 has learned from Cricket South Africa (CSA) that both stadium attendance and television viewership figures have apparently lifted sharply in this season’s competition thus far, from equivalent positions in the 2016/17 campaign.
The current tournament has just three matches left: the semi-finals (Titans v Warriors at Centurion on Wednesday, Dolphins v Cobras in Durban, Thursday) and then Saturday’s showpiece (18:00) at a venue to be determined by the semis outcomes.
All are likely to be played in areas of the country where rain has been a strong feature of late, although CSA’s head of media and communications, Altaaf Kazi, confirmed that the final has provision for a reserve day (Sunday, in a 14:30 slot if required).
So should either of the semi-finals be washed out, the team which ended higher on the round-robin log - the Titans have the advantage for the first semi, the Dolphins the other - would progress.
But if all three fixtures take place in kind enough weather, there should be a further, major climb from the total countrywide attendance figure provided by CSA for the round-robin phase of 80 997.
That is already well up on the total attendance last season, when the competition laboured without a headline sponsor, of 63 031.
Although it was also played in the lead-up to Christmas, last season’s T20 Challenge was marked by the absence for much of its duration of blue-chip national players - they were undertaking a three-Test tour of Australia.
This time, Proteas stars were largely available as the domestic event was hurried into the space initially intended for the controversial, postponed T20 Global League.
According to statistics provided by CSA, after 12 matches last season, the highest peak television audience for a match was 109 824 (Dolphins v Cobras), whilst after a dozen this time, the figure was 165 924 (Lions v Cobras).
They say that for SuperSport-covered matches this season, there has been an increase of 38 percent on the unique audience figure for Ram Slam matches compared to the same time last year after 12 fixtures - up to the December 3 round of matches this season and including two rained-out TV games.
For the same period in televised matches, there has been an increase of 85 percent on the combined average audience when weighed against 2016/17.
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