Australian basketball returned to prime time television with the Oceania series' double-header home game being broadcast live on GEM. Both national squads delivered ample entertainment, rounding the night off with victories against New Zealand.
Did the event deliver enough value that night, and perhaps make an argument that Australian basketball should return to free-to-air television?
Viewership by cities: how it all looked
According to Mediaweek on Twitter, the Oceania series' debut games made a splash on Saturday night TV ratings.
The Opals drew 82,000 views approximately, while the Boomers attracted an estimated 141,000 on Saturday night. In both cases, more than half of the viewers were based in Melbourne, giving the city its well-deserved reputation as the sports capital. Melburnians made up 53.2% for the Boomers game, and 54.9% for the Opals.
Sydney trailed a distant second in both games. Perth however, which has had a strong basketball following behind the NBL's Perth Wildcats and WNBL's Lynx, surprisingly ranked dead last during the Boomers game, recording an estimated 5,000 viewers in Western Australia as the team won 71-59.
Could the timing of the game have made a difference? Perth notched 12,000 in the audience column for the earlier Opals game, which meant a dip of 58.3% approximately. The numbers don't quite make sense; it's hard to imagine any Australian basketball fans missing out on a rare opportunity to watch multiple homegrown NBA stars playing on the same team, especially with the stakes at hand.
Brisbane and Adelaide in contrast, stayed true and proved the popularity of men's basketball. Both cities saw viewership spiking sharply, as the night went from the Opals to the Boomers. Brisbane experienced an explosion of 800%, while Adelaide grew by 400%.
Comparison to competing Saturday sports events
The Wallabies and All Blacks competed in the Bledisloe Cup that same evening on Channel Ten, albeit a few hours earlier before the Boomers. It drew an estimated total of 600,000 viewers, with the majority from Sydney (260,000), significantly overpowering the Olympic qualifiers at Rod Laver Arena.
Meanwhile, Saturday night footy on Channel Seven (Seven plus 7Mate) recorded an estimated 289,000 viewers in total. Melbourne accounted for 114,000 approximately, and Adelaide 101,000.
It sounds like Australian basketball definitely made a decent start when it comes to TV viewership, but still has some ways to go, before it can emerge as a serious competitor. What do you think, could Aussie hoops be returning to prime time television?