It's Ashes versus bashes as Nine and Ten in cricket ratings battle

It's Ashes versus bashes as Nine and Ten in cricket ratings battle - 27th December 2013

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The Big Bash League match between the Melbourne Stars and the Melbourne Renegades at the MCG.

CHANNEL 10 has thrown its hat into the ring as a real challenger to Nine's longstanding cricket monopoly on free-to-air television.

As the Big Bash League's new broadcaster, the new kid on the block is determined to shake up the establishment and bring a fresh attitude.

And it appears the high-cost gamble is paying off. It attracted million-plus audiences for last weekend's opening round of the Big Bash League.

"To break through the million-viewer barrier on Friday, Saturday and Sunday night with our first foray into prime time free-to-air TV is a terrific result," said BBL boss Mike McKenna.

"And it has given the league the opportunity to confirm its position as the summer's most exciting and popular domestic sporting competition."

A bit of healthy competition appears to have raised the standard across the board.

Ten - which paid $100 million to secure the rights for the next five years - signalled its intent by signing former Test stars Ricky Ponting and Adam Gilchrist to spearhead its commentary team.

It is seen by many that the Nine team has gone for a more youthful look in an attempt to appeal to a younger audience - the cornerstone of Ten's market.

There are some similarities in the way the two networks package their coverage. But there also glaring differences. Ten's programming unashamedly aims to hook viewers who may not be fans of cricket.

That means cheesy gimmicks such as the Million Dollar Six competition are a key part of its package.

Another big difference is Ten's female presence. Nine's team has long been a boys' club, but things are different at Ten.

Former Fox Sports host and reporter Mel McLaughlin is a key member of the Big Bash team. There are also ­female roving reporters, such as Katie Price and Nat Hunter.

There is little doubt Ten is still finding its feet and there have been some slip-ups, but it's early days and this battle has only just begun. (Herald Sun)