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Paramount cock-a-hoop with Grand Final viewership, as A-League clocks up some impressive numbers

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Expert
5th June, 2023
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Partly due to the involvement of everyone’s second team Central Coast Mariners and the brilliant football played throughout the season that continues to draw people to the A-Leagues, the ratings for the 2022-23 decider were impressive.

The APL will be urgently reminding Paramount+, a subsidiary of American multinational mass media and entertainment conglomerate Paramount Global, that the reported numbers are exactly the reason they invested in Australia’s domestic leagues back in 2021.

As a vulnerable league during the pandemic and the most likely of the major Australian competitions to go under had the health emergency continued over a lengthier period of time, the A-League appears to have emerged from the COVID hellhole in better shape than many expected.

Based on Grand Final numbers, the obvious quality of player being produced and the football played throughout the latest home-and-away season, any death knells delivered on the A-League appear to have been considerably premature and inaccurate.

The executives at Paramount will be wiping their brows in relief, hopeful of continued growth, yet also aware that things are far from perfect. The suits know that there is plenty of work to be done in terms of building the A-Leagues to a point where they are safe, secure, well-loved and here to stay for the long term.

However, the metrics from the stunning 6-1 Grand Final victory by the Central Coast Mariners over Melbourne City are worth shouting from the highest rooftop, particularly towards those people seemingly hell-bent on doing all they can to discredit and disrespect football in Australia at every opportunity.

The total national audience for the match was up 51 per cent on last years’ decider that saw Western United defeat a now repeat offending and choking Melbourne City.

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The viewing audience was up 62 per cent in the 25-54 age demographic, 58 per cent in the over 50s and the total match audience was the largest since 2019. The match rated No.2 in its time slot on Network 10, based on total viewers and the key demographics.

Predictably, these are not numbers I expect to see reported in major Australian newspapers, yet ones that should give the APL some serious hope that a post-pandemic A-League can actually survive and thrive.

A few years back, as we all worried frantically about exactly what our world would look like when the toilet paper panic and utter madness would end, the long-term future of the A-League did seem questionable.

However, just as the Australian economy has rebounded and business, construction and the entertainment industry have led the charge, so too have the A-Leagues emerged from a scary time with plenty of impetus and great hope for the future.

Jason Cummings of the Mariners celebrates his goal

(Photo by Scott Gardiner/Getty Images)

According to Paramount’s official numbers, A-League Men matches in 2022-23 saw a 48 per cent growth in viewing minutes from the season prior. The women’s competition exceeded that mark with a 63 per cent increase in the same metric and the competitions reached a total of 6.08 million Australians.

Needless to say, APL boss Danny Townsend was cock-a-hoop after the numbers were announced.

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“This is an incredibly exciting time for Australasian football, and as we reflect on the season that was, there is so much to celebrate. We had 44 per cent more fans attend men’s games and 56 per cent more fans went to women’s games”, he said.

Notably, attendance records were broken three times during the finals series.

For a heck of a long time, Australian football has copped a fair whack from media types no doubt threatened by the potential influence of the domestic game when it eventually broadens into something mirroring football abroad. Right now, that is still some way off.

Yet for us true believers and those seeing the brilliant young Socceroos emerging from the A-league, people loving the entertainment provided on a weekly basis in both the men’s and women’s competitions, and those of us happy to see steady and incremental growth, the season just past provided plenty of positive supporting evidence.

Now a Women’s World Cup looms and another chance to advance football in Australia, particularly amongst young women.

It was all I could think about as I stood at an NPL Under-16s women’s match last Sunday; just where this beautiful game will one day sit in the Australian pecking order.

Based on what we saw in the A-Leagues this season, that day may be coming a little sooner than some people might believe.

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