Sport’s 2017 TV ratings tell a promising tale for rugby league fans

John Hollins Roar Rookie

By John Hollins, John Hollins is a Roar Rookie New author!


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    The TV ratings for 2017 have just been released again and once again, rugby league has emerged as a winner.

    The top-rating TV shows in 2017 were dominated by sporting events, with State of Origin 3 coming out on top:

    1. State of Origin Rugby League game 3 Queensland vs NSW (Nine) 2.521 million metropolitan only (3.705 million combined metro and regional, #1 overall)
    2. Australian Open Tennis men’s final (Seven) 2.686 million (3.636 million, #2)
    3. AFL Grand Final Adelaide vs Richmond (Seven) 2.715 million (3.562 million, #3)
    4. State of Origin Rugby League Game 1 Queensland vs NSW (Nine) 2.371 million (3.562 million, #4)
    5. AFL Grand Final presentations (Seven) 2.713 million (3.558 million, #5)
    6. The Block winner announced (Nine) 2.523 million (3.553 million, #6)
    7. State of Origin Rugby League Game 2 Queensland vs NSW (Nine) 2.402 million (3.513 million, #7)
    8. NRL Grand Final Melbourne Storm vs North Queensland Cowboys (Nine) 2.308 million (3.378 million, #8)
    9. Australian Ninja Warrior final stage (Nine) 2.227 million (3.199 million, #9)
    10. Australian Ninja Warrior grand final (Nine) 2.158 million (3.076 million, #10)

    I realise the Age in Melbourne re-ordered these stats to just show metro ratings, therefore giving the AFL the edge over rugby league, but surely the total ratings should matter a great deal more than the metro-only figures.

    Regardless, the point of me writing this is there is still much life in rugby league – and plenty of scope for expansion. Half of Australians still prefer it over other sports on offer like AFL, rugby, and soccer.

    The reason the crowds don’t go are many, but it’s when games are played at the country’s smaller grounds – suburban stadiums like Brookvale and Leichhardt Oval – where the game excels.

    Big stadiums full of empty seats will kill rugby league and fans around the country need to fight the NSW government on their plans to rebuild Allianz and ANZ Stadiums. Rugby league and the NRL will continue to grow and, in my opinion at least, it is the better sport to watch on the box. It just needs to believe in itself more.

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    The Crowd Says (115)

    • Roar Guru

      December 8th 2017 @ 12:32pm
      Dogs Of War said | December 8th 2017 @ 12:32pm | ! Report

      “The reason the crowds don’t go are many, but it’s when games are played at the country’s smaller grounds – suburban stadiums like Brookvale and Leichhardt Oval – where the game excels.

      Big stadiums full of empty seats will kill rugby league and fans around the country need to fight the NSW government on their plans to rebuild Allianz and ANZ Stadiums. ”

      Hmm, crowd averages tell a different story. The best team averages are teams playing out of the bigger stadiums where there are facilities.

      What is needed is stadiums which have better atmosphere when you have a 12-15K crowd and this can be achieved with a better stadium design. But this isn’t more venues around Sydney, as that’s more money to maintain those grounds. Something that Peter Fitz when he suggested build 100X$1mil type facilities around the state failed to address the ongoing costs of maintaining all those facilities, especially when they are unlikely to be income producing ones.

      Not sure the SFS needs more than a refurb, or if it was to be rebuilt, then it shouldn’t be anymore than 30K in size as there is no need to have more than 1 stadium of rectangle dimensions of that size.

      • December 8th 2017 @ 1:11pm
        Mosquito said | December 8th 2017 @ 1:11pm | ! Report

        Agreed – is the total figures for both codes published yet. Its like the TV ratings where each will trumpet their number – Seven won but Nine will crow about winning certain demographics and Ten will crow about the biggest increase (from a small base) so they will all be winners. Similarly for AFL and NRL where NRL may win overall from more games and SOO and AFL will win week to week totals and/or AFL will win metros and NRL will win overall..

        • December 8th 2017 @ 5:40pm
          Crosscoder said | December 8th 2017 @ 5:40pm | ! Report

          No.Not always.
          It shows poor scheduling(thanks to TV dictating under the current TV deal) at non family friendly times, on Thursday nights and Friday 6pm,playing some matches in country areas with small stadiums is going to have an affect on crowds.
          It also shows popular teams such as Dogs/Souths and Tigers who had a poor year performance wise, are hardly going to maximise crowds,especially when schedules are badly placed.

          • March 28th 2018 @ 12:51pm
            tricolours said | March 28th 2018 @ 12:51pm | ! Report

        • December 8th 2017 @ 8:30pm
          Justin Kearney said | December 8th 2017 @ 8:30pm | ! Report

          Afl sometimes wins week to week totals regarding tv ratings. Often it doesn’t. That is despite it having an extra game.

    • December 8th 2017 @ 2:40pm
      Mike said | December 8th 2017 @ 2:40pm | ! Report

      The ratings figures I’ve seen show RL having many millions more viewers aggregate and easily winning the averages over the nearest competitor AFL. The interesting point is that they easily won the aggregate with 20+ less games counted than the AFL.

      No doubt AFL types will revert to 5 city metro numbers to make their figures look more palatable however the fact remains that RL was easily the most watched sport on Australian TV this year.

      • December 9th 2017 @ 4:30pm
        GoGWS said | December 9th 2017 @ 4:30pm | ! Report

        The AFL is a daytime telecast – as the survey above reveals, more people watch the AFL GF with friends, at the pub etc than the night time NRL GF….and the AFL GF has about 2m more adult viewers than the NRL GF on this survey (and three go is presumably even higher if you were to include kids tying into a daytime telecast)…the NRL is only in the conversation because of it’s nighttime telecast and the ratings boost this gives – it terms of actual eyeballs they are way behind, and this fact is reflected in all the metrics that count – sponsorship, advertising etc

        • December 9th 2017 @ 4:40pm
          Justin Kearney said | December 9th 2017 @ 4:40pm | ! Report

          If the nrl grand final was held during the day the same would occur in terms of its viewing numbers as the afls then wouldnt it? It outrates the afl pretty much every week during the regular season.

          • December 9th 2017 @ 5:19pm
            GoGWS said | December 9th 2017 @ 5:19pm | ! Report

            Outrates yet derives lower advertising and sponsorship revenue? ..and it’s been that way for decades..always earning less…. ask yourself does that make any sense… if more people really are watching the NRL then why don’t they get the higher advertising rates and sponsorships…unless you’re wrong perhaps?

            • December 9th 2017 @ 5:25pm
              Justin Kearney said | December 9th 2017 @ 5:25pm | ! Report

              Look we all get it gws. You are an afl fanboy. Ratings are ratings. They are fact. Now grow a spine and accept the official figures from the ratings agencies.

            • Roar Rookie

              December 10th 2017 @ 7:28pm
              William Dalton Davis said | December 10th 2017 @ 7:28pm | ! Report

              It earns less sponsorship and advertisement revenue because the games take about half as long and usually don’t have nearly as many ad break opportunities. Try comparing the ad and sponsorship revenue of a home cricket test match with an afl game and the cricket will blow the AFL out of the water as if it were a whale belly flopping into a puddle. It doesn’t mean more people are watching it though.

        • December 9th 2017 @ 4:52pm
          Larry1950 said | December 9th 2017 @ 4:52pm | ! Report

          So the actual ratings figures are wrong and you know more people watch AFL from your experience of attending pubs or your mates place where there are bigger crowds than NRL gatherings, do you get your scientific theories from Malcolm Roberts of the Pauline Party? That Roy Morgan survey was a snap sms survey, probably 1000 people, so it’s doubtful. Research polls had SSM support at 75% yet the actual figure came in at 62%, still a majority but it shows they’re often out by a margin.
          If SOO started at the time the pre- game rubbish did, league would blow AFL out of the water because all those young kids who can’t keep their eyes open after 8 pm would be viewing & boost the figures on your premise.

          There’s always one, like the rah rah crowd who like to bag NRL while their code can’t even get a FTA deal.

          • December 9th 2017 @ 5:12pm
            GoGWS said | December 9th 2017 @ 5:12pm | ! Report

            The other objective metrics are sponsorships dollars, and also advertising rates paid during each GF…both are higher for AFL…that’s where the rubber hits the road… if you maintain NRL is somehow ahead despite the evidence then good for you… you may as well start believing in a flat earth while you’re at it

            Also anecdotally, and logically, yes it is common sense that more people are watching the AFL in larger social groups than a late night telecast… and the survey linked supports that..

            Anyway good luck to you… don’t let inconvenient facts get on the way of your delusion

            • December 9th 2017 @ 5:15pm
              Justin Kearney said | December 9th 2017 @ 5:15pm | ! Report

              They are your metrics. Mine are eyes on telly. Thats what ratings are about and that is what we are discussing. But go ahead and enjoy your smug sense of superiority. An afl fanboy of the worst kind.

              • December 9th 2017 @ 7:49pm
                GoGWS said | December 9th 2017 @ 7:49pm | ! Report

                Mate welcome to your world of echo chambers…where you ignore facts that don’t fit your own narrative…like it or not this was a survey of reasonable sample size – and it showed quite a large gap (2m) in viewing total numbers, and it did also show AFL viewing weighted towards more group viewing as you would expect of a day telecast, i.e. more eyeballs watching each TV set through pubs/friends BBQs at day time viewing etc… and again, the gap in viewing of AFL over NRL is also consistent with AFL advertising slots costing more during its GF, and more generally it’s more valuable broadcast rights… in your world where NRL has higher TV ratings you have a lot of explaining to do because it doesn’t add up to facts I’ve put to you – the Roy Morgan survey (which could/should have NRL in front) or to any revenue metric where the NRL leads (please point to just one)…NRL is watched by more people according to you yet it lags on every financial measure… please explain (to quote the famous Pauline)…the NRL GF is watched by more people but it’s cheaper to buy an advertising slot? Does this make any sense at all?..

                Anyway good luck to you … stay in that echo chamber…

              • December 9th 2017 @ 8:23pm
                Justin Kearney said | December 9th 2017 @ 8:23pm | ! Report

                This is a thread about nrl tv ratings. The nrl ratings are higher annually than the AFL’s. Go on an irrelevant tangent if you like. It suits your agenda and smug sense of superiority. But it doesn’t stop you being wrong. Like so many other insecure afl fanboys you come here with a a sense of self importance but like all the others you come up short. I dont go to afl threads as i respect the rights of footy fans of other codes to have an enjoyable discussion without the interference of others who may not appreciate their code. You on the other hand prefer to drop in and gloat. Not a good behaviour trait. Think about it.

            • Roar Guru

              December 9th 2017 @ 7:27pm
              Renegade said | December 9th 2017 @ 7:27pm | ! Report

              The advertising dollars are due to an extra game each week…. pretty obvious really.

              • December 9th 2017 @ 7:53pm
                Crosscoder said | December 9th 2017 @ 7:53pm | ! Report

                Plus them having teams in Perth and Adelaide.
                Heaven help what the Tv ratings and ad revenue would be if the NRL had teams in those cities.
                Agree,an extra game each week and the longetivity of the actual game, which provides more time for ads,

              • December 9th 2017 @ 8:07pm
                GoGWS said | December 9th 2017 @ 8:07pm | ! Report

                Advert of 30 seconds for AFL GF cost more than a 30 second advert in the NRL GF (I think I read the rate for AFL is higher by around 15% or something)…and that higher rate for a 30 sec advert can’t be put down to the game length…

                In your world more people are watching the NRL but your game mysteriously receives less broadcast and lower rates of advertising revenue, somehow… that’s not a good place to be… something should be done about it, if true…alternately it is possible that the Roy Morgan survey does actually paint an accurate picture of more people watching the AFL and that’s why the AFL does get more….you can draw your own conclusions based on the evidence- I know where my money is…

              • December 10th 2017 @ 7:03am
                Crosscoder said | December 10th 2017 @ 7:03am | ! Report

                Look GWS.I know you via your track record are an evangelist for your code’s cause who pops his head in to push his barrow,something rl posters rarely do ibycontrast.
                Insecurity? Or the look at me syndrome?

                The simple facts are :-
                1 You have 1 extra game each week,meaing better ad money opportunities
                2) You have 4 teams in two capitals ,where the NRL doesn’t.Aoppears you still don’t get it.Advertisers like city spends more rather than regional ads
                3) Yet rugby league still gets to grab the Tv ratings ,that at times beat your code ,match them and in some weeks are battered by the AFL.SOO 3 games TV ratings huge.
                4)What sort off ad revenue is received with a 6pm Friday night match,ayt poorly rated time.

                If you cannot appreciate the above, marketing is not your forte.
                Yet regional people despite some Ratings Orgs ignoring them are consumers,many of them are rl supporters.They make up a substantial proportion of the Australian population.And the section has a large p[resence in the two rugby league states.
                Now melad go and help spend some of that $2.3m p.a., the generous ACT govt lobs in your teams lap for the next 10 years for a couple of games.

            • December 9th 2017 @ 9:11pm
              Mike said | December 9th 2017 @ 9:11pm | ! Report

              Wow. What a sad desperate person. We’re talking football TV ratings here not life or death. If AFL HAS to win in your world believe what you need to get you through the night. Sheeeeesh!!!!

              • December 9th 2017 @ 9:21pm
                Justin Kearney said | December 9th 2017 @ 9:21pm | ! Report

                His id gives it away. Like so many other afl fanboys he brings his insecurities to a rugby league thread beats his chest and fires blanks. Never understood why anybody would do this. Its peculiar behaviour mike.

              • December 10th 2017 @ 4:30am
                GoGWS said | December 10th 2017 @ 4:30am | ! Report

                Is there an echo in here?

              • December 10th 2017 @ 6:03am
                Justin Kearney said | December 10th 2017 @ 6:03am | ! Report

                Yep its the sound of the afl fanboy leaving the discussion and slamming the door.

            • December 14th 2017 @ 8:05pm
              Justin Kearney said | December 14th 2017 @ 8:05pm | ! Report

              Check mosquito out Mark. He is the funniest. Chest puffed out typing orders on his tablet. Screaming ‘You will answer my questions!’ at the screen. Hilarious. Some of these afl types take themselves far too seriously.

        • March 28th 2018 @ 12:59pm
          tricolours said | March 28th 2018 @ 12:59pm | ! Report

          What AFL fan wouldn’t be watching the AFL grand final day or night? Infact any half hearted fan would be far more tempted to watch a prime time TV show during the evening rather than a Bonanza replay during the day.

    • December 8th 2017 @ 3:42pm
      Mosquito said | December 8th 2017 @ 3:42pm | ! Report


      Do you have a link or are you making it up? The NRL usually wins the aggregate just with the SOO added in and the AFL wins the average with I think 22 rounds of 9 games = 198 games and the NRL average of 26 rounds of 8 games is over 200 allowing for byes. The NRL ratings were down heavily (certainly for Free to Air) this year and I don’t think Fox picked up the slack. Certainly the AFL will win the metro but the strength of NRL in country NSW and Qld (which keeps the Footy show alive) may lift the NRL over the line.

      • December 8th 2017 @ 4:39pm
        Mosquito said | December 8th 2017 @ 4:39pm | ! Report


        Just as I thought – making it up…..

        • December 8th 2017 @ 5:43pm
          Crosscoder said | December 8th 2017 @ 5:43pm | ! Report

          Teams in 3 major capital cities compared to teams in 5.Think the NRL: is doing more than OK on TV.

          You are not going to get big Tv ratings on 6m Friday night.

        • December 8th 2017 @ 7:17pm
          Mike said | December 8th 2017 @ 7:17pm | ! Report

          Wow Mosquito I didn’t know I was on a time frame hahahahahha. The source is the footy industry site. They tracked ratings for AFL including preseason, ladies and a few other matches and NRL, SOO and some international games played here and broadcast on 9.

          At the end of both seasons they had ratings for 263 AFL games for a total of 122 million & avg. 304k.
          They had ratings for 213 RL games for a total of 128 million & avg. 474k. That’s a massive 50 less games of RL but still a smashing win in totals and average. That’s impressive.

          Also: the just concluded RLWC had 28 games and rated somewhere between 12 to 15 mill. in total. That means RL had about 20 million more viewers than AFL this year but with 22 less games counted. In anyone language that is a massive win.

          And FYI: the blokes at the footy industy site are AFL nutters so there is no bias toward RL there.

          • December 8th 2017 @ 8:34pm
            Justin Kearney said | December 8th 2017 @ 8:34pm | ! Report

            Spot on mike. Both codes rate exceptionally well. Week by week it differs but overall league tends to win. The afl schedules games better for crowds and league for tv. It kills league attendances but maximises the tv viewership. Personally i prefer the AFL’s approach.

          • December 9th 2017 @ 8:56am
            duecer said | December 9th 2017 @ 8:56am | ! Report

            Is this FTA or FTA plus PayTV?
            How are both codes going re increase/decrease FTA and Pay?
            Not a fan of pre or post game celebrations being included (AFL post game at 5) – it’s like double dipping
            Is this the first time all SoO’s have beaten the NRL GF?
            Metro figures are what advertisers note, regional still has a few question where some areas are doubled, some areas not included.

            • December 9th 2017 @ 5:13pm
              Mosquito said | December 9th 2017 @ 5:13pm | ! Report

              263 AFL games? would be competition games (22 rounds by 9) 198 plus 10 finals equals 208 approx. games plus what else ? Pre season – under 18s , AFLW. Do you include under 20s in the NRL figures or the English Super League ??? This is a unusual year of RLWC – wont be back until 2029 – you may have 4 nations though I understand Australia have pulled out of next years. So show us the numbers but not including the periphery games the average AFL numbers are higher during the year

              • December 10th 2017 @ 10:01am
                duecer said | December 10th 2017 @ 10:01am | ! Report

                was trying to find out if the aggregate totals were FTA plus PayTV or just FTA.
                Interesting to note that NRL has 2 of the top 5 shows compared to 4 of the top 5 last year due to AO final and the GF not doing as well.
                Still don’t think the post game AFL GF should be included as it’s just an extension of the main game.

    • December 8th 2017 @ 8:42pm
      Justin Kearney said | December 8th 2017 @ 8:42pm | ! Report

      By the way mediaweek is the best source for tv ratings particularly footy. The nrl’s regional ratings are included much to the dismay of afl fanboys as they sway very strongly to the nrl. The afl wins the 5 city ratings but the regionals usually put the nrl in front.

      • December 8th 2017 @ 9:31pm
        Mike said | December 8th 2017 @ 9:31pm | ! Report

        Yep. The top rating demographics in order of rating numbers are Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Regional, Perth, Adelaide. So for anyone to leave out regionals is ridiculous.

        • December 9th 2017 @ 2:13pm
          Hanrahan said | December 9th 2017 @ 2:13pm | ! Report

          In terms of population the RL states – NSW and QLD – have 52% of the national population. Outside of Sydney and Brisbane there are large numbers living in the regions (think Newcastle, Wollongong, the ACT, Central Coast, North Coast, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Townsville etc), far more than living in the regions of the AFL states. That is why there is a big difference in the respective ratings.

        • December 10th 2017 @ 7:10am
          Mosquito said | December 10th 2017 @ 7:10am | ! Report

          True but advertisers for concentrated national spend tend to focus on the capitals for national campaigns – doesn’t mean the regionals are unimportant just less so. The AFL gets higher TV monies so obviously the TV networks are fools or obviously notice there are perth or Adelaide RL teams and or the AFL has a broader demographic.which may not include the Justins of this world

          • December 10th 2017 @ 7:58am
            Justin Kearney said | December 10th 2017 @ 7:58am | ! Report

            The tv deals are almost identical per annum actually. And thanks for referencing me. My opinions obviously have struck a chord with you. Must admit its great fun watching the afl fanboys invade yet another nrl discussion. Insecurities on show.

    • December 8th 2017 @ 10:13pm
      Fix the scrums said | December 8th 2017 @ 10:13pm | ! Report

      Looks like League is well and truly a TV sport. Not sure if a few new stadiums will get people out of their armchairs.
      Suburban grounds like Leichardt and Brookvale will probably disappear. The new stadiums will need more tenants.

    • December 9th 2017 @ 8:07am
      Brucey said | December 9th 2017 @ 8:07am | ! Report

      Firstly, rugby league will smash afl on cumulative tv ratings this year. Mainly because rugby league has more to sell: pre season, nrl, Origin, Internationals and finally the rugby league World Cup. No contest.

      Secondly, why / how link this with stadium rebuilds. The two issues are very different. Sydney deserves to have a purpose built rectangular stadium. ANZ is not fit for purpose.

      • December 9th 2017 @ 5:15pm
        Mosquito said | December 9th 2017 @ 5:15pm | ! Report

        We were talking about weekly averages and Mike throws in the AFL under 18s played midweek during day