Football club pay-TV ratings and attendances for July

Mister Football Roar Guru

By Mister Football, Mister Football is a Roar Guru

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55 Have your say

    This article continues my series of monthly updates on the pay TV ratings and attendances of club football games in Australia across all four codes.

    In a month where the NRL received some bullish news about the likely value of its next broadcast deal, it had the two most watched football club games on pay-TV in July.

    Both games involved the Cowboys, who are a legitimate threat for the premiership this season.

    The Saturday night game between Dragons and Cowboys attracted 302,000, while the most recent Monday night game saw the Cowboys versus the Eels achieve 293,000.

    The AFL’s most watched game also reached 293,000, when the Magpies hosted the red-hot Hawks. In fourth spot on our table was a surprising fixture, with the Suns versus Kangaroos achieving 292,000.

    Both competitions would be pleased in the spread of clubs getting good ratings, each having six fixtures in the top dozen football games. The AFL had 10 clubs appearing in their six highest rating matches, while the NRL had nine clubs appearing in theirs.

    The AFL dominates attendances, with 22 of the top 25 most-attended matches, all 22 achieving an attendance in excess of 31,000, with all 18 clubs involved in at least one such match.

    The best attended match was Collingwood’s hard-fought contest against Hawthorn (with an attendance of 75,880), which was also the AFL’s best-rating match.

    The best-attended NRL match was the Broncos hosting the Tigers in Round 19 (37,260), which finished 16th on our list.

    The pre-season football match between Adelaide United and Liverpool attracted 53,008 to the Adelaide Oval, and was the fourth best attended match for the month.

    There were other pre-season games played during July, including one between the Roar and Liverpool which also attracted a large crowd, but I could not find an official attendance figure, so unfortunately I had to leave it off the list.

    TV Ratings (‘000s)
    1. St George Illawarra versus North Queensland: 302
    2. North Queensland versus Parramatta: 293
    3. Collingwood versus Hawthorn: 293
    4. Gold Coast Suns versus North Melbourne: 292
    5. Hawthorn versus Richmond: 285
    6. Canterbury-Bankstown versus Brisbane Broncos: 271
    7. Collingwood versus West Coast Eagles: 270
    8. Richmond versus Fremantle: 261
    9. Western Bulldogs versus Gold Coast Suns: 242
    10. St George Illawarra versus Souths: 239
    11. Wests Tigers versus Parramatta: 238
    12. Manly versus North Queensland: 238
    13. Melbourne Storm versus St George Illawarra: 236
    14. West Coast Eagles versus Sydney Swans: 235
    15. Souths versus Newcastle Knights: 231
    16. Sydney Swans versus Port Adelaide: 229
    17. Essendon versus Melbourne Demons: 227
    18. Penrith versus Sydney Roosters: 226
    19. Gold Coast Titans versus Manly: 218
    20. Port Adelaide versus Collingwood: 215
    21. Western Bulldogs versus Collingwood: 212
    22. Essendon versus St Kilda : 209
    23. Richmond versus GWS Giants: 207
    24. Fremantle versus Brisbane: 201
    25. Richmond versus Carlton: 192
    26. New Zealand versus Melbourne Storm: 187
    27. Western Bulldogs versus Carlton: 186
    28. North Melbourne versus Essendon: 182
    29. Canberra Raiders versus Cronulla: 180
    30. Penrith versus Canberra Raiders: 179
    31. St Kilda versus Richmond: 179
    32. Carlton versus Hawthorn: 177
    33. Sydney Swans versus Hawthorn: 170
    34. West Coast Eagles versus Adelaide: 170
    35. New Zealand Warriors versus Manly: 169
    36. Newcastle Knights versus Gold Coast Titans: 169
    37. Geelong versus Western Bulldogs: 158
    38. Hawthorn versus Fremantle: 157
    39. Brisbane Lions versus Sydney Swans: 156
    40. Essendon versus Port Adelaide: 152
    41. GWS Giants versus St Kilda: 151
    42. Sydney Roosters versus New Zealand Warriors: 146
    43. Port Adelaide versus Adelaide Crows: 145

    1. Collingwood versus Hawthorn: 75,880
    2. Hawthorn versus Richmond: 66,305
    3. Port Adelaide versus Adelaide Crows: 53,518
    4. Adelaide United versus Liverpool FC: 53,008
    5. Richmond versus Carlton: 52,564
    6. St Kilda versus Richmond : 45,722
    7. Port Adelaide versus Collingwood: 44,496
    8. Adelaide Crows versus Gold Coast Suns: 41,715
    9. Western Bulldogs versus Collingwood: 40,581
    10. Richmond versus Fremantle: 39,777
    11. Essendon versus Melbourne: 38,861
    12. West Coast Eagles versus Sydney Swans: 38,760
    13. West Coast Eagles versus Adelaide: 38,133
    14. Essendon versus St Kilda: 38,020
    15. Sydney Swans versus Hawthorn: 37,369
    16. Brisbane Broncos versus Wests Tigers: 37,260
    17. Collingwood versus West Coast Eagles: 36,527
    18. Richmond versus GWS Giants: 35,968
    19. Fremantle versus Carlton: 33,581
    20. Fremantle versus Brisbane Lions: 32,970
    21. Western Bulldogs versus Carlton: 31,445
    22. North Melbourne versus Geelong: 31,270
    23. North Melbourne versus Essendon: 31,025
    24. Sydney Swans versus Port Adelaide: 28,316
    25. Brisbane Broncos versus Gold Coast Titans: 27,665
    26. Carlton versus Hawthorn: 26,815
    27. Melbourne Demons versus Brisbane Lions: 25,149
    28. Geelong versus Western Bulldogs: 25,041
    29. Essendon versus Port Adelaide: 23,705
    30. Melbourne Demons versus St Kilda: 22,945
    31. Canterbury-Bankstown versus Cronulla: 19,005
    32. St George Illawarra versus Souths: 18,217
    33. New Zealand Warriors versus Melbourne Storm: 17,278
    34. Parramatta versus Canterbury-Bankstown: 17,082
    35. Brisbane Lions versus Sydney Swans: 16,936
    36. Sydney Roosters versus New Zealand Warriors: 16,301
    37. New Zealand Warriors versus Manly: 15,812
    38. Brisbane Lions versus North Melbourne: 15,563
    39. Manly versus Cronulla: 14,881
    40. GWS Giants versus Geelong: 14,667
    41. Souths versus Newcastle Knights: 14,603
    42. Melbourne Storm versus St George Illawarra: 14,532

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    The Crowd Says (55)

    • August 5th 2015 @ 7:15am
      fiddlesticks said | August 5th 2015 @ 7:15am | ! Report

      for the love of god, stop!

      • Roar Guru

        August 5th 2015 @ 8:24am
        Mister Football said | August 5th 2015 @ 8:24am | ! Report

        to quote the Village People – you can’t stop the music – nobody can stop the music!

        If the demand is there, it is incumbent on the Roar to meet that demand….

      • August 5th 2015 @ 8:49am
        Ronald M said | August 5th 2015 @ 8:49am | ! Report

        methinks the man hath an agenda.

      • August 5th 2015 @ 8:08pm
        Correction said | August 5th 2015 @ 8:08pm | ! Report

        Time to cable cut and watch the free streams of footy over the internet.

        Murdoch has stiched this country up for decades, time for payback!

    • August 5th 2015 @ 7:16am
      fiddlesticks said | August 5th 2015 @ 7:16am | ! Report

      i am tipping it will be by the 5th comment that someone brings up that these figures are useless due to no FTA

      • Roar Guru

        August 5th 2015 @ 8:31am
        Mister Football said | August 5th 2015 @ 8:31am | ! Report

        I don’t quite get this argument that the figures are useless due to no FTA.

        * all the football codes have most of their games televised on Fox
        * Fox produces national ratings figures (with FTA, only 5 city metro figures are readi8ly available)
        * both the NRL and AFL use different channels in different cities making it difficult to get complete ratings figures for any given match

        so when you consider the above, it makes the most sense to rely solely on Fox ratings.

        • August 5th 2015 @ 9:15am
          fiddlesticks said | August 5th 2015 @ 9:15am | ! Report

          no its not, not all the NRL games are on FTA or Fox, you are not comparing like with like. see you in september

          • Roar Guru

            August 5th 2015 @ 11:21am
            Mister Football said | August 5th 2015 @ 11:21am | ! Report

            Although there are more games on Fox than on FTA, and in fact:
            1. one of the three games currently on FTA is not live; and
            2. the other two are shown live at the same timeslot into different markets.

            So for mine, there is no debate – using Fox ratings is the easiest, most readily available and best comparative data which we have.

      • August 5th 2015 @ 8:48am
        Ronald M said | August 5th 2015 @ 8:48am | ! Report

        ….. and more relevant, no overseas coverage.

    • August 5th 2015 @ 8:17am
      maximillian said | August 5th 2015 @ 8:17am | ! Report

      Good article & I enjoy a few stats.

      I thought Id delve a bit deeper & Its interesting that the Monday night games & the 730 Saturday game make up 8 of the top 10 most viewed games for the NRL. Also 7 of the top 10 most attended games for the NRL are from the Friday night & Sunday afternoon games.

      None of these findings are really surprising but I know a few on this site have a lot to say about dwindling crowd figures so maybe it could be answered with more games on Friday nights & Sunday arvo.

      • Roar Guru

        August 5th 2015 @ 8:26am
        Mister Football said | August 5th 2015 @ 8:26am | ! Report

        It has been really noticeable for a while that the Monday night games are ratings monsters, but only this time round did I notice that the Saturday night game does almost as well.

        It’s interesting that the NRL is looking to ditch Monday nights in favour of Thursday nights in its upcoming deal, and to also have all matches live on Fox, which will bring the Friday night games into contention as well (and make these monthly lists even more interesting).

        • Roar Guru

          August 5th 2015 @ 9:28am
          Epiquin said | August 5th 2015 @ 9:28am | ! Report

          It really is a shame you don’t look at FTA figures as the last 4 weeks of the NRL will feature both Thursday night and Monday night action. It would be great to see how FTA Thursday nights compare with PayTV Mondays.

          Personally I think Thursday nights are a more attractive option for crowds as they only have to back-up at work on Friday, whereas Monday can throw your whole week out.

          Interestingly, I last heard that the NRL wants to pursue both Thursday AND Monday games for the whole season, though only Thursday would be FTA.

        • August 5th 2015 @ 9:36am
          Bondy said | August 5th 2015 @ 9:36am | ! Report


          You have people complain every time you do this with the non FTA’s, why dont you just include them it couldnt be that hard you do them every 6 odd weeks , unless it looks bad for AFL .

          • August 5th 2015 @ 10:31am
            clipper said | August 5th 2015 @ 10:31am | ! Report

            Actually, it is worse for the AFL the way Mr Football has it now – it would be better if both the FTA and Pay TV figures were added as the AFL has more games on FTA time than the NRL, so therefore higher figures if added together. The all important attendances, however, can not be argued against – only one NRL match in the top 20!

            • August 5th 2015 @ 12:00pm
              Uncle Phil said | August 5th 2015 @ 12:00pm | ! Report

              Well not exactly, considering all AFL games are on FOX. Which also means your best games are also on FOX (though diluted with FTA). NRL best games are usually on FTA only, including just about all Broncos games. So I would agree with the consensus that your numbers are not that useful for “comparative” measures.

          • Roar Guru

            August 5th 2015 @ 11:13am
            Mister Football said | August 5th 2015 @ 11:13am | ! Report

            As Clipper says, if people think I”m avoiding FTA because of some great conspiracy, they are mistaken.

            • August 5th 2015 @ 12:36pm
              clipper said | August 5th 2015 @ 12:36pm | ! Report

              Not to mention the bigger pay tv penetration in NSW and QLD compared to AFL states.

              • August 8th 2015 @ 8:19am
                Crosscoder said | August 8th 2015 @ 8:19am | ! Report

                Forgetting of course the regionals in the Northern states,not included in the main FTA figures.

    • Roar Guru

      August 5th 2015 @ 8:33am
      mds1970 said | August 5th 2015 @ 8:33am | ! Report

      I’ve mentioned this on previous reports, but the TV ratings show the value of Monday nights to the NRL. That timeslot, when it’s not usually up against any other sports, is usually the highest-rating game of the round.
      For similar reasons, I can see Thursday night being a more regular occurrence in AFL in future seasons. During the run of Thursday night games in June/July, every one of them rated over 200k on Fox Footy as well as delivering strong FTA ratings. The other advantage of Thursday nights is it reduces the number of times games are played at the same time, which naturally splits the audience.
      The split of the audience in the afternoons and again after 7:20pm is a big reason why the 4:35 game is often the biggest rating Saturday game. The Gold Coast v North Melbourne game rating so highly was in part because it was in this timeslot.

      To qualify for listing, does one of the competing clubs have to be Australian? I’m wondering why Liverpool v Adelaide is included but none of the three MCG games involving Real Madrid, Manchester City and Roma are.

      • Roar Guru

        August 5th 2015 @ 8:44am
        Mister Football said | August 5th 2015 @ 8:44am | ! Report

        yes, the list has traditionally focused on Australian football clubs (in which I have included the Nix and Warriors, but not the SA/NZ super rugby clubs).

        It’s debateable whether even the Adelaide v Liverpool game should be included, but on the other hand, if a NAB Cup game got a big enough crowd (which will occasionally happen), then it would be included in the February/March lists.

        Either way, the inclusion of the game is of interest, so I’m not too fussed that it’s there.

        Re TV rights, it looks like the NRL is looking to ditch Monday nights in favour of Thursday nights, so we might find the AFL and NRL going head to head on Thursday nights in the future (although the AFL has a limited capacity to exploit regular Thursday night games).

        • August 5th 2015 @ 9:29am
          AR said | August 5th 2015 @ 9:29am | ! Report

          If the reports are proven to be accurate, a decision to scrap Mondays in favour of Thursdays would be an intriguing, and clever, one.

          As it stands, the NRL (and Fox) own Mondays. MNF provides good ratings but poor crowds. It was due to the impact on crowds that the AFL scrapped MNF last year.

          For the AFL, Thursdays have proven to be a winner this year, with games played in WA, SA, Vic & NSW and attracting an average Thursday night crowd of 49k across those games, with strong ratings.

          To date, there’s been no appetitie for Thursday games from NRL fans. However, it still makes sense, primarily for 3 reasons…

          First, as discussed above, the impact on crowds would surely be positive. Fans simply don’t like Mondays.

          Second, the decision is really all about TV ratings and you would expect Thursday ratings to be at least as strong as Mondays.

          Third, and most importantly, it allows the NRL to get a piece of the Thursday night action and not allow the AFL to have a full day headstart to set the weekend sporting agenda. This is critical. If the NRL allowed the AFL to start every round unopposed on Thursday nights, it gives the AFL a headstart on sporting headlines & content every week. It’s something the NRL can’t afford to do.

          • Roar Guru

            August 5th 2015 @ 11:06am
            Epiquin said | August 5th 2015 @ 11:06am | ! Report

            No doubt that Thursday night game would be on FTA, which would likely drive higher ratings than Fox.

          • Roar Guru

            August 5th 2015 @ 11:15am
            Mister Football said | August 5th 2015 @ 11:15am | ! Report

            I especially agree with the last point, a Thursday night marquee fixture sets up your round – clearly both comps would want a piece of that.

          • Roar Guru

            August 5th 2015 @ 11:19am
            Mister Football said | August 5th 2015 @ 11:19am | ! Report

            Further to that, I had thought that with the success the NRL had had with Monday nights, that they would continue to own that, allowing the AFL to set up its own marquee fixture on Thursday nights – so it is interesting that they are wanting to pass on a fixture which has proven to be an absolute ratings hit,

            • August 5th 2015 @ 12:41pm
              AR said | August 5th 2015 @ 12:41pm | ! Report

              That’s the interesting bit. Thursday nights are not only “untested” by the NRL, but unpopular with most fans.

              As I say, I still think the smart move would be to choose Thursdays over Mondays, but it would be an interesting step nonetheless.

    • August 5th 2015 @ 10:24am
      P.Marlowe said | August 5th 2015 @ 10:24am | ! Report

      Interesting to see the Cowboys get the two highest rating games but they seem to be generally ignored by Channel 9. Is there a logistical reason that the Cowboys can only play Saturday/Monday nights?

      • Roar Guru

        August 5th 2015 @ 11:07am
        Epiquin said | August 5th 2015 @ 11:07am | ! Report

        They almost exclusively play nights at home due to the warm temperatures up there. But there’s no reason they couldn’t have more Friday night games.

        • August 5th 2015 @ 11:24am
          P.Marlowe said | August 5th 2015 @ 11:24am | ! Report

          Thanks Epi – thought there might be a weather related reason that might exclude a few Sunday afternoon games.

          • Roar Guru

            August 5th 2015 @ 12:26pm
            Epiquin said | August 5th 2015 @ 12:26pm | ! Report

            Having said that, though, Canberra get a hell of a lot of night time games in the middle of winter when temperatures are near freezing. You’d think they would get the bulk of afternoon games and leave night fixtures to the first few and last few weeks of the season.

        • August 5th 2015 @ 12:14pm
          Kirk said | August 5th 2015 @ 12:14pm | ! Report

          off topic but the Fury A League team must have found it unbearable playing in summer…

          • Roar Guru

            August 5th 2015 @ 1:20pm
            Mister Football said | August 5th 2015 @ 1:20pm | ! Report

            MInd you, Brisbane in the middle of Summer can be as hot and sticky as anywhere else in Australia.

            • August 5th 2015 @ 2:44pm
              P.Marlowe said | August 5th 2015 @ 2:44pm | ! Report

              As a Roar fan, its painful enough just sitting in the Eastern stand on a afternoon game.

        • August 5th 2015 @ 3:59pm
          Brett said | August 5th 2015 @ 3:59pm | ! Report

          The heat is one reason. The other reason why the Cowboys usually get home games on Saturday is to allow regional fans to travel to Townsville.

          • August 6th 2015 @ 5:55pm
            Jackso said | August 6th 2015 @ 5:55pm | ! Report

            And the Townsville hotel/motels get the benefit

      • Roar Guru

        August 5th 2015 @ 11:17am
        Mister Football said | August 5th 2015 @ 11:17am | ! Report

        It’s interesting just the other day on another thread, someone was drawing a comparison between the Broncos and Eagles (and quite a valid one at that), similarly, I see the Cowboys to the NRL as being equivalent to Freo to the AFL, and as it happens, both are serious premiership prospects this season.

        • August 5th 2015 @ 11:28am
          P.Marlowe said | August 5th 2015 @ 11:28am | ! Report

          If you look at it through a purely commercial lens then it does make sense. Nine appears to have split Friday nights into both a ‘NSW’ game and a ‘Qld’ game. Given the numbers the Broncos pull compared to the Titans/Cowboys then it would appear to be a no brainer to keep giving that ‘Qld’ slot to Brisbane. That said, when was the last time they gave the Cowboys a Friday night game to see how they would compare?

          • Roar Guru

            August 5th 2015 @ 12:28pm
            Epiquin said | August 5th 2015 @ 12:28pm | ! Report

            Cowboys will actually host an upcoming Thursday night fixture against Souths in Round 23. That should be a blockbuster FTA game.

          • August 5th 2015 @ 12:30pm
            Crosscoder said | August 5th 2015 @ 12:30pm | ! Report

            I’m amazed this monthly thread appears in the NRL section once again.How about switching it around so all codes’ fans get a look in.Agenda driven ??After all the AFL is the biggest code in this country in terms of crowds.
            Perhaps we could include the results of the next NRL Tv deal in the AFL section and draw comparisons .

            Spread the love Mr.F..

            • Roar Guru

              August 5th 2015 @ 1:13pm
              Mister Football said | August 5th 2015 @ 1:13pm | ! Report

              generally speaking, whichever sport gets the number one rating game gets to host this article.

              • August 5th 2015 @ 1:31pm
                Crosscoder said | August 5th 2015 @ 1:31pm | ! Report

                In an NRL thread?
                By doing so you limit the number of eyes to witness and comment,as many posters are not that interested in popping into the NRL thread.Meaning many of our well informed citizens who follow other codes, are not getting a look in.The responses so far is proof positive .

              • Roar Guru

                August 5th 2015 @ 2:54pm
                Mister Football said | August 5th 2015 @ 2:54pm | ! Report


                At first, I used to label these articles as other sports, but the eds would put it into one of the football codes, so over time, I opted for whoever had the highest rating game, as that would generally be the start of the article.

    • August 5th 2015 @ 2:56pm
      Josh said | August 5th 2015 @ 2:56pm | ! Report

      Crowds on monday are poor for the same reason tv figures are good. People dont like going out on Monday. Thursdsy night will have better crowds and perhaps tv nearly as good so should be a winner.

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