Fewer than 40,000 people watched the climax of Great Britain’s Fed Cup clash with Kazakhstan on BT Sport on Sunday, painting a worrying picture about whether the opportunity for a home tie to inspire the next generation was wasted.
Overnight figures show that the average audience for the eight-and-a-half-hour programme was just over 6,000, growing to a peak of 35,300 midway through Johanna Konta‘s match against Yulia Putintseva.
Fewer than 40,000 people watched the climax of Team GB’s Fed Cup clash with Kazakhstan
Katie Boulter was part of GB’s winning team on a historical day but BT Sport figures were low
Insiders pointed to the unseasonably warm weather and the clash with Premiership Rugby games on BT Sport’s other channels to explain the disappointingly low audiences.
Judy Murray has already made an impassioned plea for Great Britain’s next Fed Cup ties to be on free-to-air television now they have been promoted to the World Group, and these figures appear to justify her comments.
The action at London’s Copper Box arena was only available via BT Sport or the LTA’s Facebook stream, which attracted a few thousand viewers.
Great Britain had not had a home Fed Cup tie for 26 years before they played a round-robin event in the top division of the Europe/Africa zone in Bath in February.
A peak of 35,300 people watched midway through Jo Konta ‘s match against Yulia Putintseva
The LTA would have hoped that the popularity of Anne Keothavong’s young squad, which includes rising star Katie Boulter, and having another home tie on a weekend would have attracted a large television audience to complement the large crowds.
However, with the rights having gone to pay-TV platform BT Sport – who put the action on their third channel – it will be a blow that Sunday’s audiences failed to reach six figures.
The BBC are understood to have not competed for the rights – which are reported to cost around £15,000 – but would be able to bid to the ITF for Great Britain’s next ties.
Judy Murray, who was Fed Cup captain between 2011 and 2016, said: ‘Let’s hope that the World Group Fed Cup ties are on free to view television so that many more people can see the girls in action and be inspired by their fighting performances.’
Judy Murray has called for World Group Fed Cup ties to be shown on free to air television