Who was at this year’s Ashes? Really, who?

The statistics beyond the boundary line.

The Ashes is always a keenly fought contest (well, England didn’t turn up this year) and irrespective of which country’s hosting the series, generally, the crowds are drawn to the stadiums in the numbers. From a data perspective, here’s a look at what Ashes 2017 looked like Down Under.

  • There were 5 test matches played during the Ashes.
  • Adelaide hosted its first Day-Night Ashes test.
  • The 1st, 3rd and 5th Test matches started on a Thursday, while the 2nd test started on a Saturday and the 4th Started on Tuesday (Boxing Day).

We analysed match-wise data via the Near Platform to bring out some key insights.

Audience Analytics : Day-Night Test vs Day Test

Audience Mix — Day-Night Match vs Day Match — Source: Near

The chart above depicts a greater profile mix in the audience at the Day-Night match compared to the Day Test Matches, when represented by the Helix personas(check out Helix personas here).

Greater inclusion of income groups was seen at the Day-Night test at Adelaide compared to the Day Matches with a 9% higher turnout from people earning less than $100k.

Income Level Audience Comparison — Source: Near

Looking at the ticket pricing for the game, there was a clear aim to attract a larger audience set.The Day-Night test match had ‘Twilight’ tickets priced at $20 for adults and $10 for kids, allowing them to attend the final 2 sessions of the day — which meant people did not have to skip work/school to watch the game, essentially accommodating a larger cricket loving audience. The Day Matches had tickets priced at $30 for adults and $10 for kids.

Although ticket prices might have been enticing, scheduling of the test match with respect to holidays may not have been the best. To understand this better, we took a look at the stadium occupancy data.

Match Scheduling and Stadium Occupancy

Stadium Occupancy — Day-Night Test Matches vs Day Test Matches — Boxing Day test will always start on Boxing Day irrespective of the weekday and hence has been excluded.

All 3 test matches (Day games) starting on a Thursday saw occupancy decline on Day 4 (Sunday)— Brisbane seeing the maximum drop.

The Day-Night test saw higher occupancy on weekends which coincided with first 2 days of the test match.

Given the aggressive pricing, would it be better to host Friday-Tuesday games to increase occupancy and thus ticket revenue collection?

Test Match Scheduling — State of the Game Analysis

We looked at the “State of the Game” at the start of the Day’s play to identify which team has the upper hand. The hypothesis is that this factor could influence people to come and watch the game.

State of the Game is depicted by a Game Balance Indicator (in blue in the chart) — +1 in favor of Australia; 0 — Balanced; -1 in favor of England.

Influence of State of the Game & Holidays towards Attendance
  • The three tests that started on Thursday — Test 1, 3 and 5 had Australia in the ascendancy at the start of Day 4. However, higher occupancy was seen on Day 4 of test matches 3 & 5, compared to test 1. This could be because of the holiday season (highlighted in grey) kicking in, and schools closing around December 15.
  • Comparing this to the 4th test in Melbourne, where England played better cricket, occupancy dropped fast after the third day, especially when England had the match in their favor.

While proving this hypothesis would require a longer period in history to be assessed, the question here is can organizers influence occupancy via gamification or by providing incentives, such as tiered seat pricing, provision for seat bidding, free parking, free entry for children?

Commute Distances and Occupancy

Another factor influencing occupancy could be commute and connectivity, to and from the stadium.

  • Brisbane, Perth and Sydney saw approximately 65% of the crowd coming from within a 10 Km distance, similar to Adelaide — which hosted the Day-Night test, that saw more than 70% people come from within a 10 Km distance. With the match ending later in the evening, it’s possible that fewer people were willing to drive far to watch the game, especially on weekdays.

Transportation could also be used as a tool to bring in the crowds from places far away from stadiums, with budding cricketing talent. Combine this with a tour of the stadium before/after the game and the packaged deal could see more takers.

Take Aways

  • The Day-Night format definitely seems a successful one and is something that could be replicated around the world. It is more inclusive with innovative ticket pricing, and with better scheduling & connectivity, could see more occupancy for all days of the test match.
  • Traditional test matches need to find ways to attract more crowds into stadiums- this could be via gamification or using incentives, targeting various strata of society, and those out of reach from the stadiums.
  • Identifying audiences must be done via modern data platforms which can then enable effective communication of exclusive offerings to build occupancy.

In this digital age, it is imperative for the organizers to ensure that the behemoth of international cricket turns nimble instead of remaining archaic.

Contact Us to use data for superior decision-making.

Also published in Medium.