Unless linked, all information here is from the 2018 AFL Annual Report
According to the 2018 AFL Annual Report, the average gross national audience across free-to-air and subscription television per home and away round was 3.882 million, compared with 4.449 million in 2017 (a decrease
of 12.7 per cent).
The cumulative gross national audience during the home and away season exceeded 89 million (89,348,093), which was down on the 102.3 million (102,337,684) in 2017. The 89 million viewers comprised 52.71 million viewers on free-to-air and 36.63 million viewers on subscription television. The AFL noted early season scheduling challenges, as well as emerging digital platforms as possible reasons for the downturn.
Friday night matches during the 2018 AFL Premiership Season attracted a national average audience of 958,432 across free-to-air and subscription television, down on the 2017 average of 1,143,699. The seven Thursday night matches attracted a national average audience of 987,127 across free-to-air and subscription television which exceeded the average audience for Friday night matches.
Fairfax noted that the 2018 match average was 307,793 for the AFL (down 13 per cent on 2017), acknowledging that the AFL has cross-over timeslots and doesn’t go free to air with the same games nationally. The average Foxtel audience was 184,821 for the AFL (down 7 per cent on 2017).
The Swans have the AFL’s highest TV audience, with 14.3m viewers over the premiership season.
The 10 most-watched matches of the 2018 AFL Home and Away Season (national average audiences across free-to-air and subscription television) were:
- 1. Round 5 – Collingwood v Essendon – 1.259 million (Anzac Day)
- 2. Round 1 – Richmond v Carlton – 1.178 million
- 3. Round 20 – Richmond v Geelong Cats –1.167 million
- 4. Round 19 – Essendon v Sydney Swans –1.127 million
- 5. Round 13 – Sydney Swans v West Coast Eagles – 1.111 million
- 6. Round 1 – Essendon v Adelaide Crows – 1.088 million
- 7. Round 8 – Hawthorn v Sydney Swans – 1.084 million
- 8. Round 15 – Richmond v Sydney Swans –1.079 million
- 9. Round 5 – Sydney Swans v Adelaide Crows – 1.073 million
- 10. Round 12 – Melbourne v Collingwood – 1.071 million (Queen’s Birthday)
Friday night matches during the 2018 Toyota AFL Premiership Season attracted a national average audience of 958,432 across free-to-air and subscription television, down on the 2017 average of 1,143,699. The seven Thursday night matches attracted a national average audience of 987,127 across free-to-air and subscription television which exceeded the average audience for Friday night matches
The gross cumulative audience for the 2018 AFL Finals Series was 16,528,256. This marks a decrease of 2.2 per cent on the total national viewership for the 2017 AFL Finals Series (16,904,687)
Foxfooty attracted a national average audience of 551,661 for the preliminary final between Richmond and Collingwood, which made it the second-highest rating AFL match of all time on its platform, behind only the 555,014 for the preliminary fnal between Richmond and GWS Giants in 2017
The 2018 AFL Grand Final national average audience (metropolitan and regional) of 3.39 million (3,386,253) on the Seven Network was fve per cent down on the 3.56 million who tuned into the 2017 Grand Final between the Adelaide Crows and Richmond. The combined five mainland capital city metropolitan audience of 2,609,707 viewers for the 2018 AFL Grand Final made it the most-watched program on metropolitan free-to-air television in 2018.
Grand final TV audiences for the AFL dropped to their lowest in a decade. Judging by the continuing decline in grand final audiences since 2008, it’s now clear that Seven and Fox Sports/Foxtel have overpaid for their telecasting rights.
The national AFL audience averaged 3.38 million, against 3.03 million in the NRL. The metro audience for the AFL was 2.6 million, against 2.12 million for the NRL, which had the higher regional audience — 911,000 against 777,000.
While the West Coast Eagles won the flag in a tight match against Collingwood on Saturday, viewers failed to support it — the audience size on Seven was the lowest since 2008, when 3.25 million viewers watched nationally. In 2017, 3.54 million watched Richmond’s win against Adelaide Crows.\
The biggest audience was for the Swans win over the Weagles in 2005, when 4.45 million people watched nationally — with the biggest metro audience of 3.39 million. The biggest regional audience was in 2003, when 1.23 million watched Brisbane beat Collingwood. The Melbourne audience on Saturday was 1.25 million, the lowest for three years. The Perth audience on Saturday was 471,000, which was the highest since 503,000 watched Fremantle lose to Hawthorn in 2013. The highest ever is 511,000 in 2005.
The Seven Network also exclusively broadcast the Brownlow Medal live and attracted a national average audience (metropolitan and regional) of 1,141,414.
According to the 2018 Annual Report, streaming of live matches through the AFL Live app grew by 13 per cent to more than 450 million minutes compared with 2017. The League reported more than 1.6 million Live Pass Subscribers.
This is the equivalent of 7.5 million hours, or 2.5 million full matches, and works out to about 12,000 viewers per full match.