Rugby World Cup is all the rage in the UK, what about the Cricket World Cup?
October 18th, 2023, Rishad Dsouza

Rugby World Cup is all the rage in the UK, what about the Cricket World Cup?

The Rugby World Cup and ICC Cricket World Cup are both vying for the UK public’s attention at the moment, and there is a clear winner, according to data from YouGov SportsIndex.

As of October 15, a fifth of the overall UK population say they are hearing about the Rugby World Cup, whether positive or negative, either from friends, family or in the media (21%). Meanwhile, less than half that proportion have been hearing about the ICC Cricket World Cup (8%).

It must be pointed out that the Rugby World Cup has entered its final week, and so an increase in the chatter it generates is not unexpected. But looking at the respective Attention scores of both sports properties reveals that the Rugby World Cup, being played in front of packed stands in France, was able to grab a lot more attention in even its early stages compared to an identical period for the Cricket World Cup, which has often been played to swathes of empty seats at Indian stadiums.

On day ten of the Rugby World Cup, its Attention score had soared to 15.9 from 9.7 on the opening day. Meanwhile, the ICC Cricket World Cup’s Attention scores have stayed steady at 7.3 with only slight fluctuations either way. How defending champion England’s surprise defeat to Afghanistan makes an impact on the reception of the event back home will be interesting to track – it could even end up being the jolt the event needs to spark a (rude) awakening among audiences back home.

What could be the reason though? One potential factor is that the Cricket World Cup is behind a paywall on the Sky Sports network in the UK, whereas the Rugby World Cup is enjoying prime-time airing on FTA network ITV.

To test this, we could look at Attention scores among the core audiences of each sport. Because people who follow cricket regularly would likely have a Sky Sports subscription or found an alternative means of consuming the sport, given that a lot of cricket in England is on the Sky network anyway. But even when looking at these core audiences, the story doesn’t change too much. Among regular cricket followers, Attention scores for the first 10 days of the quadrennial event has hovered between the mid- to late 20s, actually tapering off slightly over the course of the period. Meanwhile, among rugby union followers, Attention scores for the Rugby World Cup had risen steadily from 37.1 to 41.8.

It is important to note that the cricket audiences may show fragmented loyalties towards the various formats of cricket – Tests, T20s, ODIs and now also The Hundred. Cricket even has two separate World Cups for T20s and ODIs, whereas the Rugby World Cup is unequivocally the most important event in the international rugby calendar.

Still, it will be interesting to see how scores shape up as the tournament progresses.

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Methodology: YouGov SportsIndex measures the public's perception of sports brands on a daily basis across 16 metrics. Attention scores are based on question: Over the past two weeks, which of the following sporting events/leagues have you heard something positive/ negative about (whether in the news, through advertising, or talking to friends and family)? (the sum of positive and negative responses gives us the Attention score). Scores are based on the average sampling size of a minimum of 100 adults in each market. Figures are based on two-week moving averages for the general audience analysis and a 4-week moving average for the core audience analysis. Learn more about YouGov SportsIndex.