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A country of less than five million people making the final of one of the largest sporting events on the planet. The country must be going nuts right?
Cricket is New Zealand’s favourite summer sport, but it does not attract the public’s attention nearly as much as rugby union does. Even during the World Cup, the news of Henry Nicholls possible injury has been completely overshadowed by Beauden Barrett signing to play for the Blues franchise in Super Rugby.
While cricket has certainly been popular, and a thing that some people have been talking about, it has not grabbed the public attention the same way that previous Rugby World Cups or various America’s Cup sailing regattas have.
In a quick man-in-the-street survey, roughly one-third of the people I spoke to were not even aware that the Cricket World Cup was on. Of those who were aware, one quarter were still not interested in the slightest.
New Zealand are into their second consecutive World Cup final. AP
However, there were also people who were not normally interested in cricket but have developed an interest in this event throughout the course of the World Cup.
The general perception of most fans was one of “I did not expect them to get this far. I’m really proud that they did, and think they have a chance, but they probably won’t win.”
A couple of people that I spoke to said that while they were interested personally, only about a third of the people at their workplaces were interested and it certainly has not captured the attention of everyone.
One man complained that he watched the match, then went to work and almost nobody wanted to talk to him about it.
There are a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, cricket matches take a long time and the games starting at 9.30 pm make it very difficult to watch. The matches have mostly been showing on a subscription television service (Sky TV) meaning that people that are not subscribers have had fewer opportunities to follow.
The 2015 Rugby World Cup was played in Europe and so required New Zealanders to get up during the night to watch the games. As a result, the ratings were roughly half what they had been when the event was held in New Zealand. Even making people lose two hours of sleep makes them less likely to watch.
In contrast, the America’s Cup sailing was on free-to-air TV and each race took about 25 minutes. The races tended to be on at breakfast time so people often watched them as they had breakfast and then talked about them at work that day.
The free-to-air cricket coverage is actually following a similar format. They have a highlights package with a panel discussion on at breakfast time, and for one of the people I spoke to that is how they followed the World Cu
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