If you ask the fans, the majority hate doubleheaders. Are they that bad? Can doubleheaders be used to promote women’s sport?
Fans of women in sport, particularly fans of football and cricket don’t seem to have a lot of good things to say about doubleheaders for the W-League and the WBBL.
You have Friday or Thursday games starting at 5/5:30pm which is impossible to get to. – Freya Logan.
I don’t like it with W-League and A-League as often the scheduling heavily disadvantages the former. – Luke.
If you look up the definition of doubleheader, it means two games ‘in immediate succession’. Overwhelmingly, the gripe with doubleheaders the waiting time between the games.
The gap between matches too long. And the empty stadium vibe makes for a poor experience. – Maria Berry
This makes it hard for people to get to the early games, 5pm on a weekday in some cases for the W-League. The result? No one can make it on time. Not even the hard-core fans.
It makes me sad sometimes when the games are aired or streamed and the crowds shown on screen look so abysmal in the stadiums for the women’s games. – Amber
If you want to watch just the women, then it doesn’t matter. But trying to get the crowd, that usually watches men, to get there early for the women, the time difference doesnt help this. – Amy McCann
Why do we have doubleheaders?
“We commenced roll out of doubleheaders off back of changing our broadcast partner,” says Emma highwood, Head of Community, Women’s and Football Development at Football Federation Australia (FFA).
“The A-League and W-League are driven by broadcast and FoxSports are keen on integrating their coverage. There’s even cross-promotions of presenters. Sarah Walsh has also commented on the A-League for example.”
It’s a similar situation for Cricket Australia. Lucy Williams, Communications Advisor, women’s cricket says:
“The main reason for W/BBL double-headers is the cost of facilitating the broadcast, along with a certain number of broadcast kits available at any one time – and then the cost of standalone broadcast at non-traditional grounds.
“We obviously want to grow the profile of the WBBL on mainstream networks. We’re only in our 3rd season, so being on the Channel 10 broadcast helps increase the profile of the sport, and this is evident in the increase year on year in the opening weekend viewership.”
“The WBBL launched in the midst of an existing broadcast rights deal, so we have worked really positively with Network Ten to negotiate these additional matches above their current contract, in the interest of the game.
“The new rights deal will have the WBBL at the forefront, and for those matches not already on free-to-air (FTA) we’ll look to live stream them as we continue to develop and promote the WBBL.
“It’s very much about laying the right foundations for the league. Women’s cricket this year will have more FTA TV coverage (international and domestic combined), than any other sport in Australia.”
Most fans do recognise this:
Broadcasting of games is just as important. – Women’s Elite Rugby.
Emma Highwood continues, “Doubleheaders are not the only way we grow the fanbase. It’s just one part of a broader strategy. There’s a place in the W-League for doubleheaders and standalone games.
“Progressively as people have got used to the doubleheaders, the crowds have increased.”
Plenty of fans think doubleheaders are good for women’s sport
A great day out. – fatalberton
I think in terms of awareness and brand building it’s a good thing. There are already heaps of young girls attending men’s sport with their families, it lets them know that it’s out there and they realise it’s not just something they can watch, but something they can aspire to. – Megan Maurice
Enjoying this article? Then I reckon you might also like my newsletter. Actually, the newsletter is way better. Weekly-ish updates on what’s happening with women in sport in Australia. Nothing like the mainstream media. Get it here.
Does more need to be done to make doubleheaders work?
Some clubs are getting it right, like the Newcastle Jets.
I also see how much of an effort the Jets are making to ensure the people know and care about the W-League. They want success on & off the field. – Dan Hanney
But many aren’t promoting the women’s game. Yeah, this happened:
— Danielle Warby (@DanielleWarby) October 26, 2017
Fans have plenty of ideas about how we can improve the doubleheaders. Marketing and promotion comes up a lot.
Ideally they should be booked the same way a doubleheader of two men’s games is – like two equal games but one happens to be first. – Girl in a Fridge
If you already follow the teams and seek them out you know but they aren’t being pushed hard enough to the audiences of the men’s teams. – Freya Logan
Doubleheaders need to be on weekends or public holidays. – Kim Hinkley
Pass outs. – Amber
Once teams all work together on warm up options off the pitch it will be more appealing. One match walks off, the others walk on and start playing within 5-10mins. All teams – men’s and women’s – need to work through this one together. – Jo Fernandes
I did put this last idea to Emma Highwood at the FFA. Why, I asked, can’t we have games just roll on like they do at a Rugby 7s tournament. Even the NRL has a gap of less than ½ hour between their doubleheaders.
“We acknowledge that it does pose challenges from a logistical persepective for some of the stadiums. Especially for rusted on W-League fans.”
“It’s now around an hour for us, we’ve closed the gap,” she says. “Broadcast is critical. There are logistics around the production. There’s now post analysis of the W-League which, if you’ll remember, we never used to have. The games just ended.”
I for one, am totally down with this added analysis but it occured to me, after I got of the phone, that FoxSports has several channels. Can’t we utilise those to get immediate turnover at the ground and pre and post match analysis?
Oh, and for the love of Sydney FC, Allianz, sort out the busses!
Transport to and from venues. Not starting until after the women’s game has started and not beginning again until after the men’s game is done. – f_lexi_ble
Doubleheaders aren’t the only way to see women’s sport
Smaller, boutique venues with good marketing offer more atmosphere. – Rossco
Doubleheaders of two women’s games is my idea of sporting heaven. – Jill.
I agree! The WBBL opening weekend was epic.
The most popular weekend of the WBBL is the opening one where there’s no competition from men’s cricket at all. I really think it could be time for them to go it alone and have that window prior to the BBL all to themselves. – Ian Harkin
What do I think?
Us fans of women’s sport spent so long bangning on about the lack of coverage and now, the sports have made steps, leaps even, to address this and now we complain about the way they’ve gone about it. Not really fair is it?
Look, I don’t enjoy the game day experience of watching the women in a doubleheader, in fact, the game day experience in the W-League in general needs a lot of work but that’s a story for another time.
I’m willing to take it if it means I get to see the W-League and the WBBL on TV. For now.
Emma Highwood sums it up nicely:
“We know it’s not perfect but it’s as part of our broader strategic direction for the women’s game. We’ve been successful in reaching different audiences. We’ve been successful in getting more Matildas games broadcast and getting them playing in top quality stadiums.”