2002-2014 AFL TV Ratings (Official Annual Reports)

Introduction

All material below is the official data from the AFLs Annual Reports from 1993 to 2014, produced verbatim for easy reference.

2014

From the 2014 AFL Annual Report, Broadcasting, Scheduling and Infrastructure, Page 38 [1]

The 2014 Toyota AFL Premiership Season again attracted strong audiences around the country, via the Seven Network’s free-to-air television broadcast or through Foxtel/Fox Footy’s subscription television platform.

  • The average gross national audience per round of the premiership season across free-to-air and subscription television was 4.727 million (4.729 million in 2013).
  • The cumulative gross national audience during the home and away season was nearly 109 million (108,735,321) – an almost identical result to that in 2013.
  • The Toyota AFL Finals Series saw a total cumulative audience of 16.578 million across the four weeks, including the Toyota AFL Grand Final.

Seven Network metropolitan audiences were down slightly year-on-year (2.6 per cent), a smaller decline than the decline for Australian television ratings generally. Free-to-air regional audiences recorded a marginal increase of 0.5 per cent, while viewership on subscription television increased by 2.1 per cent year-on-year.

The 10 most watched matches of the 2014 Toyota AFL Premiership Season (national average audiences across free-to-air and subscription television) were:

  • Round 6: Collingwood v Essendon – 1.595 million (Anzac Day)
  • Round 8: Sydney Swans v Hawthorn – 1.508 million
  • Round 18: Hawthorn v Sydney Swans – 1.314 million
  • Round 7: Carlton v Collingwood – 1.310 million
  • Round 5: Geelong Cats v Hawthorn – 1.274 million (Easter Monday)
  • Round 17: Adelaide Crows v Hawthorn – 1.273 million
  • Round 13: Carlton v Hawthorn – 1.246 million
  • Round 14: Richmond v Sydney Swans – 1.241 million
  • Round 19: Sydney Swans v Essendon – 1.206 million
  • Round 10: Port Adelaide v Hawthorn – 1.201 million

Major AFL events during the ear also proved popular, with the Brownlow Medal attracting a total average national audience across free-to-air and subscription television of 1.658 million for the vote count and 1.160 million

The Toyota AFL Grand Final was the most watched program of the year on Australian metropolitan free-to-air television with an audience of more than 2.828 million people in the five mainland metropolitan markets. The national average audience in metropolitan and regional Australia for the Seven Network’s telecast was 3,733,409.

The average Grand Final audience was slightly higher than last year’s audience of 3.634 million for the match between Hawthorn and Fremantle. It was, however, down on the 4.081 million who watched the 2012 match between Hawthorn and the Sydney Swans – with this disparity between 2012 and 2014 largely due to the one-sided nature of the 2014 contest. In terms of total reach, the Grand Final coverage was seen by 6.24 million people nationally, on par with 2013.

The most-watched regular Foxtel-produced match across the season was the Saturday twilight timeslot, with an average of 234,519 viewers nationally each round. The most-watched regular Foxtel broadcast timeslot overall was Friday night, with an average of 279,887 viewers nationally each round. The highest-rating Foxtel broadcast match for the home and away season was the round 18 clash between Hawthorn and the Sydney Swans, which attracted 381,421 average national viewers.

2013

From the 2013 AFL Annual Report, Broadcasting, Scheduling and Infrastructure, Page 35 [2]

As in previous years, the 2013 Toyota AFL Premiership Season consistently attracted strong audiences on free-to-air television on the Seven Network, along with an increasing number of viewers benefitting from the availability of live AFL matches on subscription television.

The average gross national audience per round of the Premiership Season (across free-to-air and subscription television) was 4.729 million. The cumulative gross national audience during the home and away season was nearly 109 million. The Toyota AFL Finals Series saw a total cumulative average national audience of 17.084 million across the four weeks, including the Toyota AFL Grand Final.

Seven Network audiences were slightly down year-on-year (0.7 per cent), a smaller decline than the decline for Australian free-to-air television ratings generally, while viewership on subscription television increased by 6.3 per cent year on year. FOX Footy in 2013 remained the best performing channel on the Foxtel platform in five capital cities (Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth).

The 10 most watched matches of the 2013 Toyota AFL Premiership Season (national average audiences across free-to-air and subscription television) were:

  • Round five, Essendon v Collingwood – 1.673 million (Anzac Day) – the second highest rating home and away match since OzTAM ratings were introduced in 2001, behind only the same game in 2012 which had 1.736 million viewers.
  • Round seven, Geelong v Collingwood – 1.592 million.
  • Round 11, Essendon v Carlton – 1.428 million.
  • Round 12, Carlton v Hawthorn – 1.407 million.
  • Round nine, Collingwood v Sydney – 1.375 million.
  • Round three, Fremantle v Essendon – 1.344 million.
  • Round 15, Carlton v Collingwood – 1.341 million.
  • Round 18, Essendon v Hawthorn – 1.320 million.
  • Round eight, West Coast Eagles v North Melbourne – 1.291 million.
  • Round 13, Hawthorn v West Coast Eagles – 1.287 million.

The Toyota AFL Grand Final was the third highest rating program of the year on Australian metropolitan free-to-air television, with a total national average audience of 3,633,764 in metropolitan and regional Australia for the Seven Network’s telecast while remaining the most watched sporting event on Australian television in 2013.

The average Grand Final audience was down on last year, which simply reflected the fact that the Sydney Swans, from Australia’s biggest television market, were not competing. In terms of total reach, the Grand Final coverage was seen by just over six million people nationally, on par with 2013.

Major AFL events during the year also proved popular, with the Brownlow Medal attracting a total average national audience across free-to-air and subscription television of 1.555 million for the vote count and 1.173 million for the Red Carpet event beforehand

2012

Taken from the 2012 AFL Annual Report, Broadcastings, Scheduling and Infrastructure, page 36 [3]

The 2012 Toyota AFL Premiership Season continued to draw strong audiences on free-to-air television and the new rights agreement resulted in a significant increase in viewers watching AFL matches on subscription television.

  • The average gross national audience per round of the Premiership Season (across free-to-air and subscription television) was 4.781 million.
  • Free-to-air television audiences held steady across the season, while viewership on subscription television increased its share of overall AFL audiences from 18 per cent to 33 per cent, helping to make Fox FOOTY in 2012 the No. 1 rating channel on subscription television.
  • National audiences for Friday night football increased 29 per cent on 2011 during the home and away season and for the first time every Friday night match averaged more than one million viewers. The highest in the home and away season was the round three clash between Carlton and Collingwood, which attracted 1.522 million viewers nationally.
  • Including the Finals Series, a total of 45 AFL matches averaged a national audience of more than one million viewers in 2012 – more than double the 17 matches that attracted over one million viewers in 2011.

Total AFL television audiences grew 12 per cent on 2011, with cumulative audiences in all markets up year on year. The largest growth for any market was in Sydney, where viewership grew by 33 per cent, spurred by the debut season of the GWS Giants and a strong performance all year from the eventual premiership team, the Sydney Swans.

The most watched match of the home and away season was again the Anzac Day clash between Collingwood and Essendon, which attracted 1.736 million viewers nationally across free-to-air and subscription television. The game was the highest rating home and away match since OzTAM ratings were introduced in 2001.

The 10 most-watched matches of the 2012 Toyota AFL Premiership Season were:

  • Collingwood vs. Essendon, Anzac Day, round five, 1.736 million.
  • Carlton vs. Collingwood, round three, 1.522 million.
  • Collingwood vs. Geelong Cats, round eight, 1.509 million.
  • St Kilda vs. Richmond, round 10, 1.478 million.
  • Hawthorn vs. Collingwood, round one, 1.412 million.
  • Collingwood vs. Carlton, round 15, 1.333 million.
  • St Kilda vs. Fremantle, round four, 1.312 million.
  • Geelong Cats vs. Essendon, round 17, 1.309 million.
  • Fremantle vs. Carlton, round five, 1.305 million.
  • Richmond vs. Carlton, round one, 1.290 million.

The Toyota AFL Grand Final was the most-watched annual sporting event in Australia for the year. The national average audience of 4,080,608 in metropolitan and regional Australia for the Seven Network’s telecast of the 2012 season finale was 15 per cent up on the 2011 Grand Final. It was the highest rating Grand Final since 2006. The audience peaked at 5.08 million in the latter stages of the match, representing an 82 per cent national audience share. Overall, the Toyota AFL Finals Series audiences were up 22 per cent on 2011, with the cumulative national audience for the four rounds of the Finals Series being 18.1 million.

The FOX FOOTY telecast of the preliminary final between the Sydney Swans and Collingwood averaged 503,000 viewers nationally, making it the highest-ever rating AFL match on the platform. FOX FOOTY was ranked the No. 1 channel on Foxtel in 2012.

2011

Taken from the 2011 AFL Annual Report, Broadcastings and Infrastructure, page 33 [4]

The 2011 Toyota AFL Premiership Season continued to attract strong audiences across both free-to-air and subscription television attracting an average 4.05 million viewers per round nationally.

  • Free-to-air regional markets drew strong viewership with an overall increase of 1.4 per cent, while free-to-air mainland capital cities dropped by 4.4 per cent.
  • Strong audiences on Fox Sports saw an increase of 18.1 per cent across all matches in 2011, providing for a national average audience per game of 184,077 compared to 155,836 in 2010.

For industry comparative purposes, viewership across all programming on free-to-air networks fell 10.9 per cent in 2011 as a result of continued fragmentation in the market, including but not limited to an increase in the number of free-to-air multi channels.

The most-watched Toyota AFL Premiership Season games in 2011 on metropolitan and regional free-to-air TV were:

  • Essendon v Collingwood, Anzac Day, national average audience 1.43 million.
  • Geelong Cats v Collingwood, round eight, 1.30 million.
  • Collingwood v Carlton, round three, 1.14 million.
  • West Coast Eagles v Geelong Cats, round 16, 1.07 million.
  • Carlton v Geelong Cats, round eight, 1.05 million.
  • Hawthorn v Geelong Cats, round five, 1.05 million.
  • Collingwood v Geelong Cats, round 24, 1.04 million.
  • St Kilda v Collingwood, round 21, 1 million.
  • Brisbane Lions v St Kilda, round five, 984,000.
  • Gold Coast Suns v Geelong Cats, round 10, 982,000.

The Toyota AFL Grand Final continued to be the most-watched annual sporting event held in Australia with Network Ten’s broadcast attracting a national audience in metropolitan and regional Australia of 3,571,262. Eight out of 10 people watching free-to-air TV on Grand Final day tuned into Network Ten’s coverage.

The four games in week one of the Toyota AFL Finals Series attracted a cumulative national audience of 5.21 million people, the cumulative audience for the two games in week two was 2.82 million, while the cumulative national audience for the two preliminary finals was 3.17 million.

Foxsports

The inaugural meeting between the Brisbane Lions and Gold Coast Suns, QClash 1, attracted a record audience for an AFL match on subscription TV with a national average of 357,882.

St Kilda’s meeting with Essendon in round three was the next most-watched game on subscription TV with a national average audience of 306,000

2010

Taken from the 2010 AFL Annual Report, CEO Report, Page 12 [5] For whatever reason, there doesnt appear to be a separate broadcasting report in the 2010 Annual Report.

Network Ten, the Seven Network and Foxtel through Fox Sports continued to provide high-quality coverage of each game of the 2010 NAB Cup, Toyota AFL Premiership Season and Toyota AFL Finals Series.

Our broadcast rights agreements are fundamental to the AFL competition and the game itself in two key ways:

  • Broadcasts take our game to an average audience of 4.16 million people per week of the premiership season while also showcasing each of the AFL clubs.
  • The rights underpin the fi nances of the game, which in turn allows the AFL to provide distributions and grants to AFL clubs and to invest in facilities and the development of the game in communities throughout Australia.
  • 3,639,971 – AVERAGE NATIONAL SEVEN NETWORK AUDIENCE for the tied Toyota AFL Grand Final between Collingwood and St Kilda, which confirmed the Grand Final’s ranking as Australia’s most-watched annual sporting event.
  • 3,522,652 – AVERAGE NATIONAL SEVEN NETWORK AUDIENCE for the Toyota AFL Grand Final Replay, which was the second most-watched sporting event in Australia in 2010.

2009

Taken from the 2009 AFL Annual Report, Broadcasting and Infrastructure, page 28 [6]

The 2009 Toyota AFL Premiership Season was the third under the current domestic broadcast rights agreement. The AFL consolidated the relationships with its television broadcast partners, the Seven Network, Network Ten and Foxtel, and achieved a number of outstanding audience results.The Seven and Ten networks continued to share the terrestrial free-to-air rights, embracing innovation and technological opportunities in their broadcasts of four Toyota AFL Premiership Season matches per round, the Toyota AFL Finals Series and the Brownlow Medal count.

Foxtel continued its partnership with the AFL in 2009, broadcasting the remaining four matches per round on subscription channel Fox Sports and achieving a 1.2 per cent increase in its average AFL match audience compared to 2008. As in 2008, the four matches were broadcast live nationally in the Saturday afternoon, Saturday night, early Sunday afternoon and Sunday twilight timeslots.

Audiences

The 2009 Toyota AFL Grand Final was the highest-rating sports program for the year and second highest-rating program for the year after the final of MasterChef. The 2009 Grand Final was watched by an average national audience of 3.8 million people on Network Ten, an 18.5 per cent increase on the 2008 Toyota AFL Grand Final.

Other highlights of the 2009 season included:

  • An average audience per round f » or the premiership season of 4.5 million viewers on Network Ten, the Seven Network and Fox Sports.
  • TV ratings for the 2009 Toyota AFL Finals Series increasing 13.8 per cent on 2008.
  • Fox Sports’ live telecast of the 2009 NAB AFL Draft, which was watched by an average of 139,929 viewers nationally. This represented an 84 per cent increase on the audience for a delayed telecast in 2008.
  • Seven Network’s broadcast of the 2009 Brownlow Medal count, which attracted more than one million viewers nationally.

The five most-watched matches during the Toyota AFL Premiership Season involved Essendon, Collingwood, Carlton, Richmond, the Sydney Swans, St Kilda and the Geelong Cats, with an average national audience as follows:

  • Essendon v Collingwood, Anzac Day (round five) – 1.44 million viewers.
  • Richmond v Carlton,Thursday night (round one) – 1.3 million viewers.
  • Sydney Swans v Collingwood, Saturday night (round 12) – 1.22 million viewers.
  • St Kilda v Geelong Cats, Sunday (round 14) – 1.18 million viewers.
  • Carlton v St Kilda, Friday night (round 12) – 1.15 million viewers.

2008

Taken from the 2008 AFL Annual Report, Principles and Outcomes, Page 1 [7]

  • The average TV audience per round during the Toyota AFL Premiership Season was 4.668 million compared to 4.887 million in 2007, a decrease of 4.5 per cent.
  • The national Fox Sports audience per game was 168,808, an increase of 3.3 per cent on the 2007 average per game of 163,460.
  • The Seven Network’s broadcast of the 2008 Toyota AFL Grand Final had an average national audience of 3.247 million people and was the second most-watched TV program of any kind behind the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics.

Taken from the 2008 AFL Annual Report, Broadcasting and Commercial Operations, Page 32 [8]

The 2008 Toyota AFL Premiership season was the second under the current domestic broadcast rights agreement. The AFL consolidated the relationships with its television broadcast partners, the Seven Network, Network Ten and Foxtel and achieved a number of outstanding audience results.

The Seven and Ten networks continued to share the terrestrial free-to-air rights, embracing innovation and technological opportunities in their broadcasts of four Toyota AFL Premiership Season matches per round, the Toyota AFL Finals Series and the Brownlow Medal count. Foxtel continued its partnership with the AFL in 2008, broadcasting the remaining four matches per round on subscription channel Fox Sports and achieving a three per cent year-on-year increase in its average AFL match viewership. As in 2007, the four matches were broadcast live nationally, in the Saturday afternoon, Saturday night, Sunday early and Sunday twilight timeslots.

Audiences

Excluding the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony, the 2008 Toyota AFL Grand Final was the highest rating program/event for 2008, watched by an average national audience of 3.24 million people on the Seven Network. Additionally, the Anzac Day clash between Collingwood and The AFL has extended long-standing agreements with major sponsors and consolidated relationships with broadcast and media partners.

Other highlights of the 2008 season included:

  • A national cumulative average audience watching AFL matches each week of the premiership season of 4.6 million people.
  • The continuation of live Friday night football broadcasts into New South Wales and Queensland markets on Fox Sports Plus Main Event Channel 518.
  • The broadcast of all matches for teams located outside Victoria backinto their home states on terrestrial free-to-air television.
  • A national cumulative average audience for each of the four weeks of the 2008 AFL Finals Series of 3.6 million people.
  • An average viewership of more than 1.1 million people for the telecast of the 2008 Brownlow Medal.

The six most watched matches during the Toyota AFL Premiership season involved Hawthorn, Collingwood, Essendon, Geelong Cats, Adelaide, Richmond, Carlton, Melbourne and Sydney Swans, with an average national audience as follows:

  • Collingwood v Essendon, Anzac Day (round six) – 1,501,000 viewers.
  • Hawthorn v Geelong, Friday night (round 17) – 1,200,000 viewers.
  • Adelaide v Richmond, Sunday (round 19) – 1,179,000 viewers.
  • Collingwood v Carlton, Sunday (round 12) – 1,166,000 viewers.
  • Melbourne v Geelong Cats, Friday night (round 19) – 1,142,000 viewers.
  • Sydney Swans v Collingwood, Saturday night (round 14) – 1,135,000 viewers.

The most watched Toyota AFL Premiership season match on subscription television was the Round 14 Fremantle v Essendon clash, which attracted an average viewership of 288,000 viewers on Fox Sports 1.

2007

Taken from the 2007 AFL Annual Report, CEO Report, Page 25 [9]

  • The national television audience on Network Ten for the 2007 Toyota AFL Grand Final was an average of 2.572 million people, making it the most watched TV program of any type in 2007.
  • An average weekly national audience of 4.97 million people watched AFL matches on television throughout Australia.
  • An average weekly audience of 3.33 million people watched AFL finals matches on television throughout Australia.

Taken from the 2007 AFL Annual Report, Broadcasting and Commercial operations, Page 38 [10]

On February 8, 2007, the AFL’s new domestic broadcasting rights agreement with Network Ten, the Seven Network and Foxtel was announced. As a result, more people in more locations throughout Australia than ever before had the opportunity to watch AFL matches live or on short turnaround. Under the agreement, Ten and Seven broadcast four Toyota AFL Premiership Season matches per round and had exclusive rights to the Toyota AFL Finals Series and Brownlow Medal count.

The rights to the remaining four Toyota AFL Premiership Season games per round were acquired by Foxtel and broadcast on subscription (pay-TV) platforms Foxtel and Austar via Fox Sports. These generally included the Saturday afternoon, Saturday night, Sunday afternoon and Sunday twilight games. The twilight game was a new timeslot introduced in 2007.

Other highlights of the agreement included:

  • All matches involving Adelaide, Brisbane Lions, Fremantle, Port Adelaide, Sydney Swans and West Coast Eagles being broadcast live or on delay on free-to-air television in their home markets.
  • Friday night football being televised live on Fox Sports into all metropolitan and regional markets in NSW, ACT and Queensland for the first time, and in prime time on free-to-air in key markets in those regions.
  • Saturday night football being broadcast live or on short delay live throughout Queensland every week.
  • All Saturday night matches involving the Sydney Swans being broadcast live or on short delay throughout NSW and the ACT.
  • Three matches broadcast in full in Victoria on free-to-air television and subscription television on Sunday afternoons for the first time.
  • New Sunday twilight timeslot being broadcast live nationally on Fox Sports every week.
  • Finals on Friday night and Saturday night being broadcast on free-to-air television no later than 9.30pm in all markets, including NSW and Queensland for the first time

Audiences

The telecast of the Toyota AFL Grand Final on Network Ten was the most watched television program of any kind in Australia in the five mainland capital cities during 2007, with an average audience of 2.572 million people. Other key ratings:

  • The cumulative average audience watching AFL matches each week of the premiership season was 4.97 million people.
  • The five most watched matches during the premiership season involved Essendon, Collingwood, Sydney, West Coast Eagles, St Kilda and Adelaide, as follows:
  • Essendon v Collingwood (round 5): average national audience of 1.57 million people.
  • Sydney Swans v Collingwood (round 12): average national audience, 1.3 million.
  • West Coast Eagles v Sydney (round 16): average national audience, 1.2 million.
  • St. Kilda v West Coast Eagles (round 21): average national audience, 1.2 million.
  • Essendon v West Coast Eagles (round 11): average national audience, 1.23 million.
  • Collingwood v Adelaide (round 22): average national audience, 1.18 million.

On average, 3.29 million people watched AFL finals matches during each week of September in the five mainland capital cities. Another 1.04 million people on average watched each week of the finals in regional Australia.

A feature of the finals series was the national audience for the Geelong v Collingwood preliminary final which, excluding Grand Finals, was the second most-watched match since the introduction of a new ratings system in 2001. The match attracted an average audience of 1.88 million people in the five mainland capital cities and another 525,000 people in regional markets.

2006

Taken from the 2006 AFL Annual Report, Broadcasting, Infrasstructure and Major Strategy, page 39 [11]

A cumulative audience of nearly 4 million people per week watched AFL matches on television during the 2006 Toyota AFL Premiership Season in the five mainland capital cities. The average per round of 3.94 million was down 2 per cent on the record weekly cumulative audience established in 2005.

On average, another 1.17 million people per week watched telecasts of AFL matches in regional Australia.

The Toyota AFL Grand Final between the West Coast and Sydney was again the most watched AFL match of the year with an average audience in the five mainland capital cities of 3.15 million people. When the audience in regional Australia is added, some 4.15 million people in Australia watched the 2006 Grand Final on Network Ten.

The average audience in the five mainland capital cities also meant the Grand Final was the second most watched television program of any type in 2006, behind only the telecast of the Commonwealth Games’ opening ceremony.

Other national audiences, including regional markets, for the 2006 Toyota AFL finals were as follows:

  • Sydney-Fremantle preliminary final – average audience of 2.22 million people.
  • Adelaide-West Coast preliminary final – average audience of 1.93 million people.
  • Fremantle-Melbourne semi-final – average audience of 1.68 million people.
  • West Coast-Western Bulldogs semi-final – average audience of 1.61 million people.
  • West Coast-Sydney qualifying final – average audience of 1.75 million people.
  • Adelaide-Fremantle qualifying final – average audience of 1.57 million people.
  • Melbourne-St Kilda elimination final – average audience of 1.58 million people.
  • Collingwood-Western Bulldogs elimination final – average audience of 1.52 million people.

Including the Grand Final, a cumulative audience of 18.1 million people watched the 2006 finals, down 1.6 per cent on the 2005 cumulative national audience (18.3 million people).

The six most watched matches from the 2006 Toyota AFL Premiership Season in metropolitan and regional markets were as follows:

  • Collingwood-Essendon (round five) – average of 1.64 million viewers.
  • Brisbane Lions-Sydney Swans (round six) – average of 1.24 million viewers.
  • Collingwood-Brisbane Lions (round nine) – average of 1.17 million viewers.
  • Melbourne-Collingwood (round 11) average of 1.17 million viewers.
  • St Kilda-Brisbane Lions (round three) – average of 1.16 million viewers.
  • St Kilda-Fremantle (round five) – average of 1.14 million viewers.

2005

Taken from the 2005 AFL Annual Report, Broadcasting, Infrastructure and Major Projects [12]

  • An average of 4.02 million people per week – up 1.2 per cent on 2004 – watched AFL matches on television in 2005. In the past three years, national TV audiences have grown by 11 per cent.
  • The Toyota AFL Grand Final between the Sydney Swans and West Coast Eagles was the most-watched television program in Australia, with an average audience of 3.386 million in the five mainland capital cities.
  • The next two most-watched TV programs in Australia were Network Ten’s post-match and pre-match coverage of the Grand Final, which attracted average audiences of 2.981 million and 2.593 million respectively in the five mainland capital cities.

The Toyota AFL Grand Final confirmed its standing as Australia’s most popular annual sporting event after being the most-watched television program of any type in Australia in 2005. An average audience of 3.387 million people in the five mainland capital cities watched the clash between the Sydney Swans and the West Coast Eagles. When viewers from regional Australia were added in, the national AFL Grand Final audience was 4.8 million.

The second and third most-watched television programs for the year were Network Ten’s post-match and pre-match coverage of the Grand Final, which attracted average audiences of 2.981 million and 2.593 million people respectively in the five mainland capital cities.

Free-to-air telecasts on the Nine Network and Network Ten, and subscription television via Foxtel’s FOX Footy Channel, attracted the largest TV viewership on record for the 2005 Toyota AFL premiership season and the Toyota AFL finals series – an increase of 1.2 per cent compared with 2004.

The Sydney, Adelaide and Perth TV markets all showed big increases in TV viewership, with rises of 14.4 per cent, 4.6 per cent and 6.4 per cent respectively. Since 2002, when the AFL’s current broadcast arrangements began, national television audiences have increased by 11 per cent.

FOX Footy Channel had a remarkable year with a 30 per cent increase in viewership compared with 2004. It also broadcast the 2005 Australian Football International Cup Grand Final as the curtain-raiser to the Collingwood-Carlton clash in round 20 and produced a program that covered the entire tournament. Other events broadcast by the FOX Footy Channel included the NAB AFL Rising Star Medal and the Coca-Cola AFL All-Australian dinner.

Finals viewers

National television audiences for the 2005 Toyota AFL finals series increased by 14 per cent compared with 2004, largely influenced by the participation of the Sydney Swans. In Sydney, the AFL Grand Final attracted an average audience of more than 991,000 people compared with an average of 329,000 in 2004.

The Eagles’ participation drove a 35 per cent increase in the average audience in Perth with 511,000 viewers compared with 350,000 in 2004.

The St Kilda-Sydney Swans preliminary final at the MCG was the most-watched preliminary final in history with an average audience of 1.9 million in the five mainland capital cities.

The six most-watched AFL matches of 2005 were:

  • AFL Grand Final, Sydney Swans v West Coast Eagles, 3.38 million viewers.
  • Preliminary final, St Kilda v Sydney Swans, 1.9 million.
  • Preliminary final, West Coast Eagles v Adelaide, 1.59 million.
  • Qualifying final, West Coast Eagles v Sydney Swans, 1.52 million.
  • Semi-final, Adelaide v Port Adelaide, 1.29 million.
  • Qualifying final, Adelaide v St Kilda, 1.23 million.

Premiership Season

Eight teams from five states featured in the top six most nationally watched premiership season matches in 2005, all of which were Nine Network broadcasts. They were:

  • Brisbane Lions v St Kilda (round one), average 1.14 million viewers.
  • Essendon v Collingwood (round five), average 1.13 million viewers.
  • Collingwood v Port Adelaide (round 14), average 981,000 viewers.
  • West Coast Eagles v Essendon (round 12), average 980,000 viewers.
  • Sydney Swans v West Coast Eagles (round 17), average 922,0000 viewers.
  • Fremantle v St Kilda (round 21), average of 917,000 viewers.

Several premiership season matches that were sell-outs were broadcast live into home markets. These included the Brisbane Lions-St Kilda match in round one, Adelaide-Port Adelaide in round three and the Anzac Day clash between Essendon and Collingwood.

The Anzac Day game was the second most-watched premiership season match of the year, achieving an average national audience of 1.13 million viewers – slightly up on last year’s 966,310 viewers for the same match. The 611,000 viewers in Melbourne made it the most watched premiership season game in the Melbourne market.

Wizard Home loans Cup

For the first time in 2005, the AFL, FOX Footy Channel and the Nine Network reached agreement for the FOX Footy Channel to broadcast Wizard Home Loans Cup Friday night matches in Sydney and Brisbane either live or on a short delay.

Almost 800,000 people viewed the 2005 Wizard Home Loans Cup Grand Final between Carlton and the West Coast Eagles.

2004

Taken from the 2004 AFL Annual Report, Broadcasting and Strategy, [13]

In 2004 the AFL successfully extended its match-day TV broadcasts to more Australians than ever before. It is believed that in round six of the 2004 season more people watched a single round of AFL matches than ever before. The cumulative total of the average viewers of the five free-to-air and three subscription TV (FOXTEL) games totalled almost 4.9 million viewers. For the year, the AFL achieved a cumulative total of average viewers of more than four millon people per week (including both free-to-air and FOXTEL games).

The broadcast scheduling format of AFL games during the 2004 season was consistent with recent years with the Nine Network, Network Ten and FOX FOOTY for the most part airing games on:

  • The Nine Network on Friday nights and Sunday afternoons;
  • Network Ten on Saturday afternoons and Saturday evenings;
  • FOX FOOTY Channel on Saturday afternoons and evenings and Sunday afternoons.

Despite 2003 being the most watched season in history, viewer figures improved in 2004. The cumulative total of average weekly free-to-air viewers grew by almost three per cent to almost four million viewers per week. In addition, several hundred thousand more viewers watched AFL matches on FOX FOOTY Channel due to the fact that it was available as part of the basic subscription TV package in 2004.

The six most watched premiership season matches in the five mainland capital cities on Network Ten and the Nine Network in 2004 involved six clubs from four different states.

  • Brisbane Lions v Collingwood (average of 1.254 million viewers);
  • St Kilda v Brisbane Lions (1.126 millions viewers);
  • Sydney Swans v Collingwood (973,000 viewers);
  • Collingwood v Essendon (966,000 viewers);
  • Brisbane Lions v Port Adelaide (965,000 viewers);
  • Brisbane Lions v Sydney Swans (948,000 viewers).

Finals matches in the five mainland capital cities on Network Ten again attracted among the largest audiences for the year.

  • Grand final: Port Adelaide v Brisbane Lions (average of 2.97 million viewers);
  • Preliminary final: Brisbane Lions v Geelong (1.67 million viewers);
  • Preliminary final: Port Adelaide v St Kilda (1.58 million viewers);
  • Semi-final: St Kilda v Sydney Swans (1.19 million viewers);
  • Elimination final: Brisbane Lions v St Kilda (1.16 million viewers).

One major change in 2004 was the securing of Network Ten’s national games being broadcast into Canberra as opposed to always broadcasting Sydney games, as was the case previously. This ensured a greater quality and spread of AFL games being broadcast into the nation’s capital.

Some free-to-air TV highlights

  • Total viewership was up 2.8 per cent across the five metropolitan markets in 2004.
  • Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth showed the largest increases in television audience viewership in 2004.
  • Viewership was up in four of the five timeslots with the largest increases being on Saturday nights (Network Ten games) and Friday nights and Sunday 1pm (Channel Nine) matches.
  • Six teams from four states featured among the top six most watched premiership season games of 2004.
  • For the second year in a row, Brisbane Lions v Collingwood on Easter Thursday was the most watched AFL match during the premiership season.
  • Round six was the most watched premiership season round and most watch round ever with 4.72 million viewers.
  • The 2004 Grand Final attracted an average audience of almost three million viewers in the five mainland capital cities, making it Australia’s most watched sporting event of 2004.

2003

From the 2003 AFL Annual Report, Commercial Operations, pg 63 [14]

AFL Television audiences now exceed more than 4 million viewers per week.

Free-to-air television highlights

  • Brisbane, Sydney and Perth showed the largest increases in television audience viewership in 2003.
  • Viewership was up in all major capital city television markets with the exception of Adelaide.
  • Viewership was up in all five timeslots with the largest increases being on Saturdays (Network Ten games)
  • Teams from each state were represented among the top six most watched games of 2003.
  • The two Perth teams recorded the greatest percentage increase in viewership in 2003.
  • Round 22 was the most watched round of the premiership season with 4.45 million viewers.
  • Brisbane v Collingwood on Easter Thursday * The Grand Final attracted an average was the most watched premiership season audience in mainland capital cities of match in mainland capital cities (peak of more than three million viewers nationally 1.75 million viewers across the five cities). for the first time since 1996 (and the
  • The first week of the finals was the most second time ever) with a peak audience watched round of the entire 2003 season of over 3.5 million. In fact, the AFL with 5.5 million viewers, beating the 4.1 Grand Final ranked as Australia’s fourth million figure for week one of the 2002 finals. most watched television program overall
  • With an average audience of more than for 2003. 1.32 million viewers and a peak of 1.5
  • The 2003 Grand Final averaged 575,000 million viewers, the 2003 Grand Final was viewers in Brisbane, making it the most Melbourne’s most watched television program watched Grand Final in Brisbane ever. and most watched sporting event of 2003.
  • The Grand Final was the most watched per cent more viewers than the 2002 AFL Grand Final in Melbourne ever and finals series (aggregated, this was nearly the second most watched Grand Final 2.5 million more viewers in total over the nationally ever. four-week period).

Domstic Television

AFL games during the 2003 premiership season were shown on TV around Australia via the AFL’s three broadcast rights holders — the Nine Network, Network Ten and Fox Footy. With the exception of public holiday fixturing, games were shown on:

  • The Nine Network on Friday nights and Sunday afternoons. ,
  • Network Ten on Saturday afternoons and Saturday evenings.
  • Fox Footy Channel on Saturday afternoons and evenings and Sunday afternoons.

By any measure, 2003 was an exceptional year for the AFL with average weekly free-to-air viewers growing by almost 10 per cent in 2003 with the premiership season average up eight per cent and finals 21 per cent up against 2002. In 2002, the average weekly television audience in mainland capital cities during the premiership season was 3.6 million viewers for the five free-to-air games on Nine and Ten. This represented an average per game audience of 720,000 viewers. In 2003, the average weekly viewership during the premiership season grew to 3.84 million viewers — an average per game audience of more than 777,000 viewers.

2002

Taken from the AFL 2002 Annual Report, Commerical Operations

Free-to-air ratings data: —

  • Overall significant growth in the Brisbane market on free-to-air.
  • Comparable results to 2001 on Friday nights nationally.
  • Increased audience on Saturday nights: seven per cent increase nationally and 65 per cent growth in the key development market of Brisbane which is in direct competition with a strong pay television operator.
  • Significant growth in public holiday matches – six per cent increase nationally.