Super Rugby viewership breakdown

Rusty Roar Guru

69 Have your say

    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.

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    The Crowd Says (69)

    • Roar Pro

      July 19th 2012 @ 1:53am
      SamClench said | July 19th 2012 @ 1:53am | ! Report

      The Tahs are the fourth most watched team in Super Rugby? My goodness. Viewers really need to think more when they plan their rugby viewing for the weekend.

      • Roar Guru

        July 19th 2012 @ 8:10am
        Rusty said | July 19th 2012 @ 8:10am | ! Report

        The editing is misleading. The featured within the Top 20 games by virtue of playing the Stormers in South Africa.

        • Roar Guru

          July 19th 2012 @ 10:34am
          jeznez said | July 19th 2012 @ 10:34am | ! Report

          I was going to say – because Lions third surprised as well.

          • Roar Guru

            July 19th 2012 @ 10:39am
            jeznez said | July 19th 2012 @ 10:39am | ! Report

            ps Berrick Barnes incessant kicking that day against the Stormers may have made a few people decide not to watch rugby again!

        • Roar Pro

          July 19th 2012 @ 2:49pm
          SamClench said | July 19th 2012 @ 2:49pm | ! Report

          Ahh I gotcha.

    • Roar Guru

      July 19th 2012 @ 4:18am
      biltongbek said | July 19th 2012 @ 4:18am | ! Report

      Rusty thanks for the figures , but the SA figures as you break it down is a bit misleading.

      supersport is only accessable via pay channel, and roughly 75% of the population does not have access to it, then when you look at rugby union, a recent study by the Bulls Franchise have shown only 20% of the population follows and supports rugby, so your figure of 1 in 285 is not reflecting the viwership popularity amongst rugby fans.

      You could base your popularity or viwership based on access and interest in the sport by looking at the actual market of around 10 million.

      Not a criticism, but just closer to the reality.


      • Roar Guru

        July 19th 2012 @ 8:05am
        Rusty said | July 19th 2012 @ 8:05am | ! Report

        No criticism taken. It was something I alluded to around the actual subscriber numbers providing the eco levelling

      • July 19th 2012 @ 9:50am
        Red Kev said | July 19th 2012 @ 9:50am | ! Report

        I don’t know about New Zealand (although I guess it is also the same) but rugby in Australia is also only accessible by pay channel.
        Fox Sports is not free to air. There is usually 1 hour of rugby per week available to the public at large – a highlights package called Super Rugby Extra Time shown in the post 11pm timeslot on Mon/Tues on free to air. Australia also only shows Wallaby test matches on free-to-air, you have to pay to see NZvSA in the Tri-Nations.

        • July 19th 2012 @ 10:47am
          Emric said | July 19th 2012 @ 10:47am | ! Report

          Rugby in NZ is 99.9% on SkyNZ
          Except Friday nights – the NZ game of the round is Delayed on Prime
          and Tests all tests are shown on delay on Prime

          • July 19th 2012 @ 10:56am
            Ryan said | July 19th 2012 @ 10:56am | ! Report

            There is the Sunday afternoon highlights package on Prime

      • July 19th 2012 @ 4:55pm
        Funk said | July 19th 2012 @ 4:55pm | ! Report

        “You could base your popularity or viwership based on access and interest in the sport “…jees if you did that the Aus number would also drop dramatically. The only interested people in Victoria, are at the rebels games 20-25000, the same for WA with the force (part from few miners from QLD and NSW in northern WA). Bugger all in SA (that South Australia, for our african friends) and NT.
        Then you can start dropping off the leaguies from QLD and NSW who wouldn’t watch union if their lives depended on it. Ahh statistics aren’t they great!

    • Roar Guru

      July 19th 2012 @ 8:08am
      Rusty said | July 19th 2012 @ 8:08am | ! Report

      A fair chunk of editing post publish . Will see if I can submit a proper table

    • July 19th 2012 @ 8:18am
      Team taniwha said | July 19th 2012 @ 8:18am | ! Report

      Interesting stats. All you ever hear is that the expanded super competition and indeed conference system is to help grow the Australian game. But I read some where else that viewer numbers were down on last year in Australia, while up significantly in NZ and SA (in line with your stats). So all this marketing talk about growing the Australian game seems to have not flowed inr eality yet..

      • Roar Guru

        July 19th 2012 @ 8:43am
        Rusty said | July 19th 2012 @ 8:43am | ! Report

        its getting more players in the game but as shown in Cutbacks article is not really hitting the high notes locally for a number of a reasons

      • Roar Guru

        July 19th 2012 @ 10:37am
        jeznez said | July 19th 2012 @ 10:37am | ! Report

        Taniwha – the Waratahs having their worst season ever, after years of playing boring rugby will bring the Aussie numbers down enormously.

        If the style of play and results come NSW’s way then there should be a corresponding leap in Aussie viewer numbers.

    • Roar Guru

      July 19th 2012 @ 8:34am
      Rusty said | July 19th 2012 @ 8:34am | ! Report

      Ok – very painful but here you go. Top teams watched on the basis on being in the Top 20 matches viewed across all three countries

      Team Total Audience Games Avg
      Stormers 7584902 9 842767
      Sharks 4112618 5 822524
      Lions 2444627 3 814876
      Waratahs 799450 1 799450
      Bulls 6988248 9 776472
      Crusaders 2298579 3 766193
      Blues 1486690 2 743345
      Cheetahs 2957085 4 739271
      Chiefs 736081 1 736081
      Hurricanes 731730 1 731730
      Brumbies 724373 1 724373
      Reds 723075 1 723075

    • July 19th 2012 @ 8:51am
      Steve said | July 19th 2012 @ 8:51am | ! Report

      These are inredible numbers especially for a pay tv sport. Rugby is not my first sport of choice but it does have an amazing ability to continue its growth around the world. I have heard that the next broadcast deal has the potential to be mammoth.

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