By anyones standard this has been an outstanding weekend of league. There was a general air of expectation and excitement over the beginning of the season, and by its end we were introduced to that rarest of rugby league scenarios….a fairly contented audience. The weather held out, and most of the matches were close fought, with no major incidents to make hay over. All in all, a splendid result.
However since I have little to no faith in News and Nine to cover the game in a positive way, here we are.
First, the crowds were outstanding – picking up from where the 2021 season ended on a high. In total, 147,775 people attended NRL matches across New South Wales, Queensland and New Zealand, with an average attendance of 18,472 per game. This was the highest attendance aggreagate and average for round 1 in ten years and average crowds were up more than 18% on the corresponding round 1 in 2021. Brookvale Oval and Endeavor Field were both sold out, and venue capacity usage across the round was 65.8%.
Nines ratings are up – Metro 5 City traditional tv ratings on Thursday and Friday were up 5.1% on 2021, while Nine happily trumpeted the highest BVOD numbers for a regular season match ever on Thursday.
Foxtel set top box ratings over the weekend were outstanding, with 4 matches reaching higher than 300,000 viewers, with matches across Thursday, Friday and Saturday averaging 286,000 – up nearly 16% on last year. While we dont have a lot of data in terms of Kayo viewing yet, its likely that Fox Group ratings will be averaging well over 500,000 per game if last years trends hold.
And all this without the heightend interest that comes with a new team playing on Sunday. Those afternoon figures could be collosal for both broadcasters.
Speaking of which, the leagues newest addition, the [locaton redacted] Dolphins were not only competitive, but they won their first match in front of more than 32,000 people at Suncop Stadium.
And all this after a brand new preseason competition went off without any real problems and excellent ratings on the paytv broadcaster.
This follows an offseason where the NRL itself announcement major new partnerships including its first banking partner, Westpac, and took on Tabcorp and Kia while also renewing with KFC, as well as resigning its naming rights partner, Telstra – all of which can only help the leagues bottom line and extend its non broadcast revenue streams.
The League also announced a hefty profit of more than 62m for the 2022 season. The Financial data coming in from the clubs for last season is hugely encouraging with most clubs reporting profits in the double digit percentages over both last season and the previous “real season” of 2019, a fair bit of which can be attributed to renewed sponsor and fan interest.
The only cloud out there really is the fact the CBA hsnt been done yet, although the womens agreement has been completed. This hasnt seemed to matter one iota this weekend.
All in all, this may be the most positive start to an NRL season yet, I look forward to the overwhelming feelings of warmth and positivity emanating from Nine, the Telegraph and the Sydney Morning Herald. Because really if you cant be positive about this, WHEN CAN YOU.