Ben Stokes has been placed as the odds on favourite athlete to win the Sports Personality of the Year (SPOTY) award by Betfair, Sky Bet and other bookmakers following Sunday’s third Ashes Test.
Stokes, who has very much been hailed as England’s saviour in the Test, went on batting run which saw the New Zealand-born cricketer hit 135 not out to claim a one wicket victory over Australia.
As a result of his exploits, Sky Sports saw a record breaking 2.1m viewers tune in to the contest, it’s biggest audience for a Test match, whilst also attracting over 2m viewers for the one-hour highlights package on Channel 5.
Furthermore, the BBC totalled an engagement reach of around 8.2m across all their available platforms, with its Test Match Special radio coverage attracting over 1.2m listeners online. BBC Sport’s live text raked in 3.3m and video highlights registered 3.7m requests.
According to the Telegraph, despite the record-breaking figures, bosses at Sky have ruled out the possibility of making any of the remaining two Test matches available on free-to-air television.
A previous partnership between Sky and Channel 4, which was successfully agreed earlier this year to share the coverage of the ICC Cricket World Cup final between England and New Zealand, saw audience figures dwarf that of the third Test, with 8.7m in total tuning in to see England claim the gold – 3.5m of which were watching on Sky with 5.2m coming from free-to-air providers.
In fact, the viewing figures for the ICC World Cup final beat the 8.4m peak audience on day four of the 2005 Trent Bridge Test.
Stokes, who currently sit 1/5 atop Skybet’s SPOTY market, has Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling (16/1) and Mercedes-AMG’s Lewis Hamilton (18/1) as his closest competitors – Sky Bet has gone as far as to open a ‘Without Stokes’ market.
The SPOTY will be announced on 15 December at Birmingham’s Genting Arena.