Channel Nine has come under fire from cricket fans over a controversial programming decision for the Women's T20 World Cup final.
The broadcaster decided to relegate Australia's record triumph against India on Sunday night to its secondary channel, 9 Gem, rather than show on it Nine's main channel.
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With network supremos deciding ratings heavyweight Married at First Sight would remain on the main channel, it meant the showpiece tournament effectively had to take a back seat.
Channel Nine's decision - coincidentally occurring on International Women's Day - came despite the network trumping the World Cup final as a momentous moment in women's sport.
More than 86,000 fans packed the MCG to set a new attendance record for any women's sporting event in Australia.
It was also the biggest crowd ever seen for a women's cricket match worldwide, making Nine's call even harder to fathom.
As reported by The Australian, former Western Bulldogs board member and women's sporting advocate Susan Alberti called Nine's move "absolutely disgraceful".
“This is a World Cup, a world championship and our Australian women’s team is in the final,” she said.
“I don’t see why that other show couldn’t be postponed and people can watch it later. This is much more important.
“For Channel 9 to snub them like this, it’s not good for women. It’s just crazy.”
Her outrage was shared by plenty of other viewers on social media.
“I think it is disgusting it is going to be on Gem and not on the main channel,” AFLW pioneer and women in sport advocate Susan Alberti, speaking at the MCC function, on Channel Nine’s decision to demote the final.— Jessica Halloran (@JessiHalloran) March 8, 2020
Albert words met with rousing cheers.
Shame on Channel Nine.
Don’t be a global, embarrassing headline on a day that Australia makes history for all the right reasons.— Catherine Murphy (@CathMurphySport) March 8, 2020
There’s still time @Channel9
Do the RIGHT THING. I think you’ll find the ratings are quite good. #T20WorldCup #InternationalWomensDay
I hope their shareholders have a say, big & costly mistake— Claire, allegedly (@Maddingly9) March 8, 2020
Such a missed opportunity
Sure. But it’s not the main channel. So it’s a statement. And a weird one.— MaryGearin (@MaryGearin) March 8, 2020
However, other fans saw no issue with Nine's decision to televise the final on Gem.
Many pointed to the men's Ashes series as a prime example of the network taking a similar approach.
With the secondary channel offering HD coverage and the match still free-to-air, plenty of viewers couldn't see what all the fuss was about.
How does what Channel a games on make a difference ? I can easily use a remote to choose what channel I want to watch— matt (@matte1579) March 8, 2020
Men’s WC was on GEM, Ashes were on GEM, embarrassing the lot of ya, have to be outraged, just enjoy the girls winning in front of 86,000 people FFS.— Mark Alvey (@alvey5) March 8, 2020
It makes absolutely no difference on the ability to watch.— Zoran Ristevski 🇲🇰🇦🇺 (@ZRistevski) March 8, 2020
If it was delayed I’d get the outrage, but it was live?— AlexanderWilliam (@bluebag_raider) March 8, 2020
Not an issue.
Last year’s Men’s ODI WC final was on GEM, as were the Ashes.— Michael Atkinson (@kinson88) March 8, 2020
MCG sets global women’s cricket record
Organisers had hoped to fill the venue on Sunday and top the record crowd for a women's sporting event set when 90,185 people watched the 1999 women's soccer World Cup final in California.
But the final figure was 86,174 on a landmark night.
It was still the largest crowd for a women's sporting event in Australia and the highest crowd figure for a women's cricket match globally.
The turnout on International Women's Day was lauded as a seismic shift for women's cricket and sport in general.
"It's a game changer," retired Australian great Alex Blackwell said on ABC Grandstand.
"I think it sets the standard or the bar as high as possible for the next sporting event - men or women."
Openers Alyssa Healy and Beth Mooney rose to the occasion, to the delight of local fans.
Healy set the early pace with five sixes and seven fours in her swashbuckling 75 from 39 balls, while Mooney was unbeaten on 78 from 54 balls, her knock including 10 fours.
"You cannot wipe the smile off my face one bit," Healy said of the crowd.
"Even if we had lost the game I still would have been smiling.
"I never thought that we would get an opportunity like this in my whole career ... I thought maybe in 20 years time."
Organisers pulled out all the stops in the record attempt, with an extensive marketing campaign that included the social media hashtag #FillTheMCG.
Officials got their dream match-up when the home team and the well-followed Indian side made it to the decider.
There was also the added interest of American pop star Katy Perry performing before and after the match.
With the game in Australia's keeping, the party atmosphere kicked up a notch with a Mexican wave circling the ground.
Ashleigh Gardener caught Poonam Yadav off Megan Schutt's bowling to end the contest, the visitors all out for 99 chasing Australia's 4-184.