Super Rugby viewership breakdown
So here we are, at the end of pool stages of the Super Rugby season. There has been some scintillating play and some less-than scintillating performances on all three continents.
There has also been the usual upsets and egg for the faces of the pre-season predictors (like me).
This was the second season with fifteen teams in the competition. To look at the popularity of this season, I have been reviewing the viewership facts coming out of South Africa (RepUcomSA) for this season. Overall cumulative viewership across SuperSport (SA), Sky Sports (NZ) and Fox Sports (Aus) was a whopping 54, 972, 678.
Broken down regionally, you get a sense of demand and consumption of rugby in each country.
SuperSport 36 831 694 – 67% (175 389 per game)
Sky Sports 12 093 989 – 22% (57 590 per game)
Fox Sports 6 046 995 – 11% (28 795 per game)
The SuperSport number is colossal. At 36 million, it is over 1.5 times the population of Australia. However, given the population of New Zealand, the Sky Sports number is perhaps more impressive.
New Zealand (4 million) = 1 in 69 people
South Africa (50 million) = 1 in 285 people
Australia (22 million) = 1 in 764 people
This is an astonishing number for NZ. It would be pretty interesting to also have the subscriber numbers for each service, which I think would provide some economic levelling to the South Africa numbers. Either way it demonstrates the level of interest in each country, with Australia lagging considerably behind.
From a viewership point of view, it would also appear that the conference system is working. 18 of the 20 most watched games were hosted in SA and 13 of these were derby matches. The Bulls v Stormers match was the most watched game so far.
Of those 20 most watched games, New Zealand teams were involved in six and Australian teams only three.
Top five games by audience:
Game | Date | Supersport | Fox Sports | Sky Sports | Combined
Bulls v Stormers | 2/6/12 | 990,062 | 8,168 | 7,410 | 1,005,640
Sharks v Stormers | 26/5/12 | 919,914 | 24,044 | 6,860 | 950,818
Lions v Sharks | 2/6/12 | 888,840 | 10,607 | 5,080 | 904,527
Stormers v Bulls | 31/3/12 | 843,244 20,342 | 24,460 | 888,046
No real surprises given the SuperSport numbers that the South African games would be the most watched. Interesting, though, that the 12th most watched game was in New Zealand and was heavily watched across the Southern Hemisphere.
The teams most watched, sorted by cumulative audience, are ranked:
Stormers, Sharks, Lions, Waratahs, Bulls, Crusaders, Blues, Cheetahs, Chiefs, Hurricanes, Brumbies, Reds.
The numbers (which were submitted to the site but were not published in full detail) are skewed due to number of appearances, but I think that’s a fair indication of popularity. If you consider that 64% of the Bulls and Stormers games made it into the Top 20 viewed, that is incredible. Overall though the Stormers, with their broadcast popularity and crowd averages over the last few years, must be one of the best if not the best supported non-international rugby team in the world.
I think that what this shows in terms of the overall consumption is that South Africa will always be the biggest market due to population, but that New Zealand is dominant per capita.
However, due to the smaller population in NZ, significant growth appears limited. So unless South Africa can overcome a number of socio-economic hurdles to increase its subscriber base, it should be Australia with the greatest room for an increase. Australia comes with its own hurdles, the number one being the congestion of the Australian sports market.
Throw on top a poor performing conference with three teams in the bottom third and it becomes clear how much Australian rugby depends on its New Zealand and South African neighbours to bring home the broadcast bacon.
Overall though, the numbers are very good and show an appetite for the sport that can only be a positive when the broadcast agreement is re-negotiated in 2015.
Wallabes vs Wales - Scott Allen's match highlights -