Cronulla boned, Broncos win, in NRL season stats crunch
With the NRL to have a fixed 20 round season schedule over the next five years, perhaps it has come at a good time following this year’s schedule.
This season Brisbane had a whopping 18 Friday night games, with their nearest rivals being Canterbury and St. George-Illawarra, whose total of ten includes the Thursday night season opener.
Cronulla was last with one Friday match, which of course was against the Broncos. The Warriors, Roosters and Panthers only had two matches on Friday nights.
Brisbane playing three quarters of their season on Friday certainly gives them an advantage in regards to the same routine with the same seven-day turnaround, while majority of the comp can have inconsistent turnarounds of seven days, nine days, six days, ten days, five days – basically all over the place. This does balance itself out though when Origin comes around and the Broncos get hurt with players backing up.
With Saturday night football, there’s no surprise with North Queensland leading the way with 13 matches, with ten of those at Dairy Farmers.The Cowboys love having Saturday night games at home to enable most Cowboy fans up north of Queensland to travel to the game. Also no surprise that the Cowboys’ big brother, Brisbane, has the least Saturday night matches, playing just one.
Sunday afternoons, the timeslot which the majority of the clubs would love to have to get the crowds, saw Canberra lead the way with 11 matches, followed by Cronulla, Souths and the Sydney Roosters with 10. The team that had the lowest was surprisingingly the Dragons with just three matches, which means (if you include the ANZAC match), the Dragons played football in the daylight only four times in season 2012. They share that number with Brisbane and North Queensland.
With Monday night football, the dreaded timeslot for crowds, Cronulla led the way by playing seven matches home and away. It’s a tough gig, when you consider that nearly a third of their season was played on a school night. Ridiculous.
There should be a situation where a club only plays up to four matches on Monday night, to share the load. On the other end of the scale, Gold Coast Titans didn’t play one Monday night game. NRL scheduling at its worst.
Now we get down to the most important category, free to air. The team that had the most exposure was obvoiusly the Brisbane Broncos, with a staggering 21 matches out of 24. Next best was Souths and and the Tigers with 13 apiece. The least was eventual top-eight side Canberra with three matches, while the Warriors also had three. Cronulla was next lowest with four matches.
As the teams finished on the ladder after 26 rounds, Canberra finished sixth with 30 points, Cronulla’s finished seventh with 29 points, while Brisbane finished eighth with 28. Yet team eight had 18 more games of free-to-air exposure than team six.
It’s certainly proving that performance on the field doesn’t translate to free-to-air coverage, even when we do acknowledge that teams with big supporters bases like Brisbane, Canterbury, St George, Souths, Wests and Parramtta will always be on free to air to drive up the ratings. Speaking of Parramatta, the team that came last had eight matches on free to air. Well, if Parra had a great season, they might rival Brisbanes 21 matches.
With lack of exposure on free to air, it is unfair on clubs like Canberra and Cronulla, top eight finalists who between them had only seven appearances on free television. Those clubs should be getting more exposure. It would help to build up their supporter base, and also get sponsors on board. As with Monday night games, there needs to be an even share between teams.
Hopefully with the 20 round fixed schedule in season 2013, we’ll see a fairer balance for the broadcaster, still cashing in on teams’ popularity, but also give the smaller teams a fair go.
Most: Brisbane Broncos 18/24
Least: Cronulla 1/24
Most: North Qld 13/24
Least: Brisbane 1/24
Most: Canberra 11/24
Least: Dragons 2/24
Most: Cronulla 7/24
Least: Gold Coast 0/24
Free to air
Most: Brisbane 21/24
Least: Canberra, Warriors 3/24