The Roar
The Roar


Super Rugby by the numbers (TV)

Brumbies after a strong performance from Henry Speight. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)
Roar Rookie
21st July, 2015
3017 Reads

Is Australian rugby a hypochondriac? This is the question that prompted the following investigation of the Super Rugby TV ratings.

In 2013, at the end of the almost sold-out Lions tour, the ARU declared that rugby was sick. How could this be so? We will look into the TV numbers to see if this is true from a ratings perspective.

We will look back starting from 2010 following through until 2015.

2010 was the last season of the much-loved single round-robin format where every team played each other once over three and a half months. 2010 saw the Bulls rampage through to the finals while the highest ranked Australian team was the Waratahs.

Full Season Average 88,912
Games Involving All Teams
Full Season Total 42 3,550,000
Full Season Average 84,524
Highest Rating NSW vs SHA 123,000
Lowest Rating BLU vs ACT 56,000
Aus Team Ratings Average
Team Games Total Ave Ladder Pos YoY Dif
Brumbies 11 920,000 83,636 6
Force 7 569,000 81,286 13
Reds 9 878,000 97,556 5
Waratahs 11 1,041,000 94,636 3

2011 was the year of backflips as the Queensland Reds marched through the Super Rugby glory, providing one of the strongest years for Australian Super Rugby TV ratings.

Games involving Australian Teams
2011 Games AUS FOX
Full Season Total 53 4,403,000
Full Season Average 84,673
Games Involving All Teams
Full Season Total 84 83,131
Full Season Average 6,983,000
Qualifier BLU vs NSW 127,000
Qualifier CRU vs SHA 114,000
Semi QLD vs BLU 265,000
Semi STO vs CRU 29,000
Final QLD vs CRU 518,000
Aus Team Regular Season
Highest Rating QLD vs CRU 202,000
Lowest Rating STO vs WF 25,000
Lowest In Aus WF vs NSW 40,000
Aus Team Ratings Average
Team Games Total Ave Ladder Pos YoY Dif
Brumbies 14 1,164,000 83,143 13 -1%
Force 15 997,000 66,467 12 -18%
Reds 15 1,625,000 108,333 1 11%
Rebels 12 999,000 83,250 15
Waratahs 13 1,328,000 102,154 5 8%

On the back of a disappointing 2012 World Cup campaign (if you call coming third disappointing) and a big 2011 season from the Reds, Super Rugby ratings received a shot in the arm with the increased interest in the the sport.

Games involving Australian Teams
2012 Games AUS FOX
Full Season Total 47 4,746,000
Full Season Average 100,980
Games Involving All Teams
Full Season Total 77 6,959,000
Full Season Average 90,377
Qualifier CRU vs BUL 106,000
Qualifier QLD vs SHA 203,000
Semi CHI vs CRU 94,000
Semi STO vs SHA NA
Final CHI vs SHA 116,000
Aus Team Regular Season
Highest Rating NSW vs QLD 193,000
Lowest Rating WF vs HUR 49,000
Notable Mention MEL vs WF 130,000
Aus Team Ratings Average
Team Games Total Ave Ladder Pos YoY Dif
Brumbies 12 1,221,000 101,750 7 22%
Force 12 1,145,000 95,417 14 44%
Reds 13 1,564,000 120,308 3 11%
Rebels 13 1,268,000 97,538 13 17%
Waratahs 14 1,665,000 118,929 11 16%

Unfortunately I could not find the data for 2013.

On the back of the Lions tour one would think that Super Rugby ratings in 2014 would have got a shot in the arm. However, it was a bad year in the end for the Wallabies with controversy all over the places amid sackings and suspensions. This hangover may have affected public interest in the 2014 season as TV numbers seriously deteriorated from 2012 despite a huge season from the Waratahs.

Games involving Australian Teams
2014 Games AUS FOX
Full Season Total 39 2,869,000
Full Season Average 73,000
Games Involving All Teams
Full Season Total Sorry No Data
Full Season Average
Qualifier BRU vs CHI 138,000
Semi WAR vs BRU 238,000
Final WAR vs CRU 347,000
Aus Team Regular Season
Highest Rating WAR vs HUR 129,000
Lowest Rating RED Vs STO 27,000
Notable Mention BRU vs WAR 125,000 *Highest Aus Derby
Aus Team Ratings Average
Team Games Total Ave Ladder Pos 2014/2012 Dif
Brumbies 10 780,000 78,000 4 -23%
Force 10 660,000 66,000 8 -31%
Reds 9 675,000 75,000 13 -38%
Rebels 9 597,000 66,000 14 -32%
Waratahs 9 885,000 98,000 1 -18%

If you thought the 2014 numbers looked bad I am sorry but 2015 was not much better. The fact that the Reds forgot they were meant to play rugby like a team of adults who get paid didn’t help the situation. In 2015 we also have the data from New Zealand which makes for some interesting reading when you see the New Zealand interest in some Australia derbies.

2015 Games AUS FOX NZ SKY AU+NZ Total
Full Season Total 46 2,883,000 2,349 5,232
Full Season Average 62,673 51,065 113739
Games Involving All Teams
Full Season Total 69 4,187,000 7,821,000 12,057,000
Total Games Broadcast 65 69 69
Full Season Average 64,415 113,347 177308
Qualifier HIG vs CHI 74,000 312,000 386,000
Qualifier BRU vs STO 31,000 31,000
Semi HUR vs BRU 123,000 416,000 539,000
Semi WAR vs HIG 174,000 325,000 499,000
Final HUR vs HIG 163,000 583,000 746,000
Aus Team Regular Season
Highest Rating REB vs WAR 122,000
Lowest Rating MEL vs LIO 24,000
Notable Mention FOR vs REB 33,000 *Lowest Aus Derby
Aus Team Ratings Average
Team Games Total Ave Ladder Pos YoY Dif
Brumbies 15 904,000 60,266 6 -23%
Force 13 685,000 52,692 15 -20%
Reds 13 887,000 68,230 13 -9%
Rebels 13 773,000 59,461 10 -10%
Waratahs 14 1,084,000 77,428 2 -21%
2010/2015 Dif

So how much can be read into the ratings? Well, it backs up the online sentiment when reading articles and comments on The Roar and other corners of the internet that Australian rugby may indeed have the flu. But how much of this is through bad publicity and terrible self-promotion by the ARU?

Would you ever hear the AFL or NRL crying poor or announcing the game is in a bad way? When you follow the A-League they only promote the great future the game is headed towards.


Hopefully on the back of the 2015 Rugby World Cup and the addition of two new teams we will see a rebound in the Super Rugby ratings.

So what do you think, Roarers, is Australian rugby ill?

Interesting side notes
Shute Sheild ratings? For the April 9-12 weekend there were 15,000 viewers.

What is considered a pretty good ratings day for other sports on pay TV?

In the NRL and AFL it is 250,000-plus, while the A-League stands at 50,000 and above, and the Aviva Premiership (UK Sky and BT Sports only) pulls more than 110,000.

Disclaimer: TV ratings data is released but unfortunately not every game’s TV ratings can be found. This can affect the totals and averages of each team and their displayed ratings, thus the data is not scientific and is for reference only.

Games played in South Africa are aired, but unless you are a baker the coverage comes during the early hours of the morning and thus draws low ratings.

All the Super Rugby TV ratings data can be found here where footy industry has posted the excel spreadsheets. A big thanks to the The Wookie for collecting it all.