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Do Grand Final ratings justify expansion?

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    Darren Jolly of Collingwood celebrates a goal during the 2010 Toyota AFL Grand Final replay between the Collingwood Magpies and the St Kilda Saints at the MCG, Melbourne. Slattery Images

    Darren Jolly of Collingwood celebrates a goal during the 2010 Toyota AFL Grand Final replay between the Collingwood Magpies and the St Kilda Saints at the MCG, Melbourne. Slattery Images

    The AFL must be delighted with the television ratings generated in both Sydney and Brisbane from the replayed 2010 grand final. With two Victorian teams going head-to-head in the AFL and two NSW teams in the NRL, this removed the parochial factor that so often clouds the debate between AFL and NRL over grand final TV ratings.

    In the five capital city ratings, the AFL averaged 2.69 million compared to the NRL’s 2.09 million. Much of the difference was made up in the AFL’s expansion states of NSW and QLD where the GF averaged 405,000 viewers in Sydney and 375,000 in Brisbane.

    This is in stark contrast to the NRL which only managed 221,000 in Melbourne, 33,000 in Adelaide and 75,000 in Perth.

    TV executives make their decisions on TV rights dollars based on the five capital city market. The regional TV ratings are secondary to the equation. In fact, regional TV ratings double count certain areas like the Gold Coast and often totally exclude areas such as regional WA and SA.

    Do the above TV ratings quantify the benefits of expansion?

    The AFL expanded before the NRL (apart from the failed SuperLeague experiment) and established teams in all five capital cities.

    The presence of a team creates interest. When that team does well the TV ratings skyrocket, but it’s difficult to separate real interest from parochial interest.

    The Melbourne TV ratings for the NRL in 2009 was a clear vase of parochial driven ratings, the same with the Swans in the AFL driving up past Sydney TV ratings.

    It should be noted that even with Melbourne Storm in the NRL GF, the NRL ratings were approximately the same as the AFL with two Victorian teams. When the Sydney Swans appeared in the AFL GF, TV ratings nationally were by far the biggest achieved in the two codes ever.

    The 2010 GF ratings in each code make the picture much clearer. The penetration of AFL is greater than the NRL nationally, due to expansion.

    The NRL GF really struggled in its non-traditional markets despite its TV friendly timeslot of late Sunday afternoon.

    In Melbourne, where a team exists and games such as State of Origin and Tests have been played, a niche market has been created but it was still almost only half of the Sydney ratings for the AFL GF.

    In Perth, where the NRL is mooting a future team, and has a heavier influx of mining related expats from NSW/QLD, the game attracted 75,000. However, in Adelaide where the NRL has little presence other than a game or two a year, the ratings were a paltry 33,000.

    Thus the case for the AFL expanding with second teams into NSW and QLD draws strength.

    NSW and QLD represent approximately 55 per cent of the Australian population. By increasing the presence of Australian football in these states, this ensures at least one game a week is played. The AFL, therefore, continues to entrench itself into the sporting psyche and builds on the interest in those states.

    The other advantage of expansion with two teams in each non-traditional market is the odds of one of them making the grand final doubles.

    As we have seen with traditional markets, they will watch the grand final regardless of who is playing, but there is a much bigger parochial interest in non-traditional areas. Another argument for expansion.

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    The Crowd Says (249)

    • October 6th 2010 @ 6:14am
      MVDave said | October 6th 2010 @ 6:14am | ! Report

      AFL fan hubris…the GF ratings showed 1.5 m Victorians watched it and in the rest of the country (about 17 million people) 1.3 m watched. So outside of Victoria about 1 in 14 (less then 10% of the population) people bothered to watch? Not sure why you’re gloating about those figures…and this after the most extraordinary amout of media beat up leading to it. Perhaps the AFL should introduce a cooking show for half time…then they might crack the 3-4 million figure. All this with the Swans costing $10smillions over 30years and Brisbane Lions/Bears similar amounts over 20 years…looks like $100s of millions more needed to get the AFL ratings up in that 55% of the population.

      • Roar Guru

        October 6th 2010 @ 6:22am
        Redb said | October 6th 2010 @ 6:22am | ! Report

        “Perhaps the AFL should introduce a cooking show for half time” – sounding a bit bitter mvDave. πŸ™‚

        Given much of the country actually congregates together to watch either of the Grand Finals the TV ratings probably don’t do the actual figure justice. Live sites, pubs, BBQ’s,etc dont count in the numbers so a straight and may I say simplistic analysis based on TV ratings less total population equation is inaccurate.

      • October 6th 2010 @ 7:16am
        Kurt said | October 6th 2010 @ 7:16am | ! Report

        How are the A-League ratings going this year Dave?

    • Roar Guru

      October 6th 2010 @ 6:36am
      M1tch said | October 6th 2010 @ 6:36am | ! Report

      The ratings for the Swans were ordinary, hey even I watched the GF πŸ˜‰

      • Roar Guru

        October 6th 2010 @ 6:53am
        Redb said | October 6th 2010 @ 6:53am | ! Report


        Yes the Swan ratings have dropped over the past 2 years, so it is interesting that the GF did not see any fall off, in fact it is robust. The Swans ratings were also for a team that has matured somewhat and has reinvented itself towards the end of the season.

        What do you think of the premise of the article? Can we you see the point re when a team exists compared to not in non tradtional markets and how far ahead the AFL is on the NRL due to expansion.

        It is also pertinent to point out that NSW/QLD offer greater ratings riches than Vic/SA/WA given the population difference. The ratigns in quantum for NSW and QLD were higher than the tradtional AFL states of WA and SA. The move to expand into NSW and QLD not a bad call on the AFL’s behalf. WA and SA wont offer the same riches as they are much smaller markets.

        • October 6th 2010 @ 11:33am
          Whites said | October 6th 2010 @ 11:33am | ! Report

          Here is the add revenue figures for the first 6 months of this year.

          Sydney -$514,143,049

          New South Wales-$187,020,165
          South Australia-$15,257,145
          West Australia-$21,778,321
          Northern Territory / Tasmania-$37,239,884

          So regional NSW and QLD are as big a market as WA and SA combined.

          • October 7th 2010 @ 10:40am
            Fez's are cool said | October 7th 2010 @ 10:40am | ! Report

            This also highlights why many RL fans believe the game is undervalued. If all the money is in NSW and Qld, why does the dominant code get less?

            I think the AFL definately benefits from having a presence in all the OzTam cities. This is something the NRL desperately needs to address.

            The only real difference from last year to this in the NRL grand final viewership is the drop in Victoria – obviously because of the Storm being there last year, and the Salary cap drama leaving a bad taste in Melbourne. Time heals all wounds. Just look at the NRL in Sydney for proof.

    • October 6th 2010 @ 6:55am
      Dan Dresden said | October 6th 2010 @ 6:55am | ! Report

      Putting aside that codes pick and choose what ratings figures to boast about, unless the AFL plans on having a grand final every week, then it would be a wasted effort.

      Let’s ask Ch 7 and 10 how they feel about Sydney’s and Brisbane’s interest levels in AFL.The loss in advertising $ they have copped in this current AFL deal tells us all we need to know.

      • October 6th 2010 @ 7:17am
        Kurt said | October 6th 2010 @ 7:17am | ! Report

        Any figures Dan?

        • October 6th 2010 @ 7:21am
          Dan Dresden said | October 6th 2010 @ 7:21am | ! Report

          Figures on what? I said to ask 7 and 10. Coming in last in the Sydney and Brisbane ratings week after week tells you all you need to know. Do you seriously think the tv networks can charge their optimum adveritisng $ during those AFL matches? There’s enough newspaper stories about over the past few years to confirm my point.

          • Roar Guru

            October 6th 2010 @ 7:45am
            Redb said | October 6th 2010 @ 7:45am | ! Report


            For one when the Lions were winning the Brisbane ratings were fairly good for first half of the season. Both the Swans and lions ratings are muddied somewhat from the dual broadcast on Foxtel and many internet posters forget to add OneHD ratings.

            The Lions and Swans ratings are deliberately talked down by those with vested interests, the GF ratings show there is a market for AFL in those places.

            As for newspaper columnists – you are kidding. try hard Roy Masters πŸ™‚

          • October 6th 2010 @ 9:10am
            Kurt said | October 6th 2010 @ 9:10am | ! Report

            OK, so your argument is that I should contact channels 7 & 10 directly to discuss their advertising revenue streams. Fair enough, glad we cleared that up.

      • Roar Guru

        October 6th 2010 @ 7:27am
        Redb said | October 6th 2010 @ 7:27am | ! Report


        Rarely do we get a snapshot that encapsulates as close as possible the true or potential audience for the codes like we have with 2010 Grand Finals. Like for like two Melb AFL teams from the original VFL and two Syd NRL teams from the original NSWRL. (albeit one merged)

        The premise of the article is that as the AFL has expanded first to all 5 capital cities it is able to achieve greater viewership in non tradtional areas.

        In the contrary re Ch 7, it would have surprised them to see the Sydney and Brisbane numbers and provides the AFL with a handy negotation point about the potential of its new NSW and QLD teams .

      • October 6th 2010 @ 3:22pm
        BJW said | October 6th 2010 @ 3:22pm | ! Report

        Speaking from recent experience, Channel 7 doesn’t feel strongly about the AFL outside of Victoria. And they schedule it accordingly.

        First Friday night AFL final, Geelong v Saints, got delayed in Canberra to follow Better Homes and Gardens AND THEN The Vicar of Dibley Xmas Special (repeat.. wtf?). Following Friday night final also got delayed.

        Can’t say i was happy about it. Ended up streaming the games online… so yeah, TV audience may not be great outside of Victoria but then considering they don’t play a lot of the games live (or even with a reasonable delay that doesn’t result in the telecast going over to the next day) can’t say I am surprised!

        • October 6th 2010 @ 6:34pm
          JamesP said | October 6th 2010 @ 6:34pm | ! Report

          BJW – in that case, Chennel 7 doesn’t feel strongly about the AFL in Victoria too…given that almost every Friday night game this year was on a 1 hour delay into Melbourne…

    • October 6th 2010 @ 7:15am
      Brendan said | October 6th 2010 @ 7:15am | ! Report

      If it’s a true like for like comparison can you tell me if both games were broadcast live Accross the country?

      • Roar Guru

        October 6th 2010 @ 7:21am
        Redb said | October 6th 2010 @ 7:21am | ! Report

        The NRL GF was live into Melbourne, dont know about Adelaide or Perth.

        • October 6th 2010 @ 8:01am
          Brett McKay said | October 6th 2010 @ 8:01am | ! Report

          it was definitely scheduled as live across the country, yes….

          • October 6th 2010 @ 9:06am
            Whites said | October 6th 2010 @ 9:06am | ! Report

            Both games were live nationwide. The only difference was the broadcast time. It is often commented that the NRL GF benefits by having the Sunday twilight slot while the AFL GF has the “deadzone” of Saturday afternoon. While it is true more people overall are watching TV on Sunday evenings it also means there is more competition. The highest rating show at the same time as the AFL GF had no more then 300,000 viewers nationwide whereas at the same time as the NRL GF 1,473,000 watched channel 7 news.

            • October 6th 2010 @ 11:39am
              DB said | October 6th 2010 @ 11:39am | ! Report

              Perhaps the NRL should hold its GF at 3 o’clock in the morning when competitions at it lowest

              • October 6th 2010 @ 11:47am
                Whites said | October 6th 2010 @ 11:47am | ! Report

                Good point. That is exactly what I’m saying. That would also be a good time for all the viewers in europe and africa.

            • October 6th 2010 @ 11:49am
              slickwilly said | October 6th 2010 @ 11:49am | ! Report

              its called the rebecca maddern phenomenon

            • Roar Guru

              October 6th 2010 @ 11:50am
              Redb said | October 6th 2010 @ 11:50am | ! Report

              Late Sunday afternoon is a very good TV time, your just making excuses. The NRL deliberately moved the telecast later to take advantage of the better TV time. At one stage it was on at 7pm.

              • October 6th 2010 @ 12:29pm
                Ian said | October 6th 2010 @ 12:29pm | ! Report

                FYI, TV Network interest (Channel Nine here) moved the Grand Final to 7pm.

                There was a push to move the finals back to mid afternoon a couple of years ago, and the media barons relented to a 5.30pm kick off.

                @Whites makes a good point re competition or lack off. Why nine would bother showing the NRL pre match so called entertainment then baulk at showing the presentation later is probably a good example of this.

    • October 6th 2010 @ 7:16am
      sheek said | October 6th 2010 @ 7:16am | ! Report


      Australia is so far advanced from where it was say 15 years ago. If you travelled around Australia in 1995 & asked someone what they though of the footy (say in regular season), they might first ask you which footy were you referring to?

      Although where you were would give you a clue as to which code they were likely to discuss. Anyway, fast forward to 2010, & many Aussie sporting fans can hold a discussion across all 4 footy codes.

      The fact that many Aussies have some idea about each of the 4 major football codes must represent some small plus for the argument of expansion.

      In any case, it’s often argued if you don’t have a national presence (representation in the big 5 cities) in your code, you aren’t in the race. I certainly adhere to this philosophy with rugby union.

      • Roar Guru

        October 6th 2010 @ 7:22am
        Redb said | October 6th 2010 @ 7:22am | ! Report


        Agree, we even drink each others beer. πŸ™‚

      • October 6th 2010 @ 7:23am
        Dan Dresden said | October 6th 2010 @ 7:23am | ! Report

        It’s more an argument for the rise of the internet, pay tv and national media programs, rather than what individual codes have done themselves to grow awareness nationally. There was no Roar in 1995.

    • Roar Guru

      October 6th 2010 @ 7:24am
      mds1970 said | October 6th 2010 @ 7:24am | ! Report

      Ratings overall haven’t been great this year, but the grand final numbers were good.
      The ratings in Sydney, as expected, was a smaller audience share than anywhere else. But, due to population size, the total number of viewers attracted was higher than the number of viewers in Adelaide and Perth, cities that host two teams. On that indication, Sydney could easily host a second team.

      Of course there’s more to it than the ratings from two games that neither Sydney team plays in.

      • Roar Guru

        October 6th 2010 @ 7:30am
        Redb said | October 6th 2010 @ 7:30am | ! Report

        Thats right mds1970, given the higher ratings for the AFL GF in Sydney than either Perth or Adelaide for a neutral GF, there is potential.

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