In June, data from Roy Morgan showed over 7.4 million Australians aged 14+ (36%) watch AFL matches on TV including AFL pre-season games, AFL Home & Away games, AFL Finals, the AFL Women’s competition or the show-piece AFL Grand Final.
The good news for the AFL, as it restarts its 2020 season, is that significantly more Australians (7.4 million) watch the AFL on TV than watch Sydney-based rival the NRL (6 million), although both have declined in recent years.
All data below is from the 2020 AFL Annual Report unless otherwise linked.
More than 77 million viewers across Australia tuned into the 153 televised home and away games, with the average audience per game up 14 per cent compared with last season. The Seven Network’s national
average audience was up 12 per cent, with its average metro audience up 14 per cent. The Brisbane average free-to-air television audience was up 32 per cent on 2019, confirming the increasing interest in AFL
in Queensland, while Victorians turned to football throughout with average FTA audiences up 13 per cent. Foxtel’s subscription-based television numbers increased 19 per cent on 2019, while the Foxtel Group’s
streaming audiences were up 200-plus per cent, led by the fast-growing Kayo.
2020 AFL Home and Away season total ratings finish at 75.7m, up 4.3% on the first 18 rounds of 2019, down 15% on the 2019 season overall. The AFL averaged 4.2m viewers per round this season, up from 4.03m viewers in the first 18 rounds of 2019, and up from 3.88m viewers over the full 2019 season.
AFL Metro viewing rose 3.14% to an average of 263,000, while regional viewing dropped 3.79% over the same period. Fox viewing (without streaming) rose 13% to Round 18, and the average is up 17% on the full year 2019 average. AFL viewing rose in its largest market, up 12.7% in Melbourne to an average audience of 303,000, as well as in Brisbane where ratings were up 31.5% to an average audience of 36,000. Sydney dipped below 30,000 (-5.41%) and Perth averaged just over 92,000 (down -5.22%). Adelaide AFL ratings copped a hiding on the back of a poor Crows season, down 16.86% to an average of 80,000 viewers.
Richmond was the most watched AFL team in the metro FTA markets with 6.388m viewers at an average of 399,000 per game. Collingwood, Geelong, Essendon and West Coast rounded out the top 5 on aggregate, while Collingwood, Carlton, Essendon and Geelong rounded out the top 5 on ave.
Collingwood was the most watched AFL team on Foxtel with 3.979m viewers at an average of 234,000 per game. The top 5 was rounded out by Richmond, Geelong, Carlton and Hawthorn. This does not include streaming.
In Sydney, the AFL match average dropped to 29,000, down -5.41%, with the Swans averaging 39,000 per game and Giants 34,000. The highest rating game in Sydney this year on Seven was Richmond v Sydney in Round 2 with 63,000.
In Melbourne, the AFL match average was up 12.7% to an average of 303,000 – which broadcasters have largely accredited to the ongoing Lockdown. Richmond lead the charge averaging 379k, giving it a narrow lead over Collingwood at 373k. The highest rating AFL game of season 2020 in Melbourne was the Collingwood v Richmond clash in Round 2 with 668,000 viewers.
In Brisbane, Seven experienced a ratings hike of 31% off a relatively low base with the city averaging 36,000. The Lions averaged 55,000 for the season, while the Suns had the lowest rating of any team in its home market at 30,000 per game.
In Adelaide, the citys ratings tanked in 2020, down 16% on 2019 to 80,000 viewers per game. AFL Minor Premiers Port Adelaide scored the bragging rights this year with an average audience of 101,000, while the Crows managed 86,000 on their home screens on Seven
In Perth, the ratings drop was less dramatic, down 5.2% to an average of just over 92,000. Fremantle averaged 108,000 viewers per match, while West Coast averaged 143,000 per game .
AFL Friday Night footy averaged 979,000 viewers, while Thursday nights averaged 860,000 over the course of the season. In total, 9 games passed the million audience mark in 2020, down from 17 in 2019
AFL had 153 games this season (same in 2019) with 134 FTA games broadcast across 106 broadcasts (2019 – 136 games/85 broadcasts). Its worth noting that at least 3 matches for each of the Perth and Adelaide sides included delayed coverage.
According to Roy Morgan, overall TV viewership of the AFL was up slightly in 2020, by 15,000 (+0.2%) to 7,540,000, and the growth was powered by increasing male viewership, up 74,000 (+1.8%) to 4,246,000. Viewership amongst women was down slightly by 59,000 (-1.8%) to 3,294,000.
The Toyota AFL Finals Series attracted a cumulative average audience of 15,976,197, including the Grand Final attracting an average TV audience of 3,858,698. The Grand Final audience was 30 per cent up on the 2019 Grand Final and the highest since 2016. Audiences were particularly strong in Victoria and Queensland. Melbourne’s average audience of 1.58m was its highest ever for an AFL Grand Final, while the overall average audience of 1.84m in Victoria was 50 per cent up on 2019. Brisbane’s average audience of 383,206 was the highest Grand Final audience in Brisbane since 2004 and the highest for a Grand Final not involving the Brisbane Lions. Sydney’s
average audience of 416,779 was the highest figure in 20 years for a Grand Final not involving the Sydney Swans.
The 2020 AFL Finals Week 1 were up 14% to 5.6m. Metro/FTA was up + 19% while Fox set-top box ratings down -1%. Metro markets – Sydney +30%, Melb +25%, Bris +28%, Adl +31%, Per 19%.
Seven recorded its highest audience in Brisbane in 11 years (excluding Grand Finals), with the average audience of 149,000 doubling last year’s Cats-Pies qualifying final. 2nd largest Thursday Night Finals Audience ever ,+34% on same final in 2019, and higher than any week 1 final in 2019.
TV Blackbox can reveal the Thursday night final also attracted a cumulative audience of 429K across the platforms Foxtel, Foxtel Now, Foxtel GO and Kayo. (This amounts to a streaming audience of 126k).https://t.co/EbHaTb7CRC
— sportsindustry (@footyindustryAU) October 2, 2020
2020 AFL Finals Week 2 was an all Vic team affair which rated a total audience of 2.722m, down 0.3% on last years semi finals with 3 non victorian sides. Metro ratings were up more than 5%, with Melbourne up 38%, all other metro markets, reg and fox down. With Kayo, Fox Now/Go/Set top boxes/ and FTA, the AFL Semi FInals rated a total of 2.947m.
AFL Preliminary Finals rated a total of 3.752m across the Seven and Foxtel set-top box networks, this figure is down 5.76% on last years Prelims. AFL preliminary Finals experienced a 22% drop on Foxtel compared to prelim finals last year.
#TVratings last night:
In BRIS, #AFLLionsCats beats NRL again… Huge! 165k, biggest in that market since before 2009, 12+ years (more on this soon).
As Seven crush SAT night, #AFLFinals hit another 2020 high (outranks FRI across 5 city & in MELB).
More to come ..
— Mr TV Australia (@MrTVAus) October 18, 2020
Last nights #AFLCatsLions Preliminary Final was the highest rating @AFL match of the year with a national free-to-air audience of 1.482 million (1.146 mil metro) on @Channel7 @TV_Blackbox
— Kevin Perry (@kevinperry) October 17, 2020
2020 AFL Finals Series to date has rated 11.874m across the Seven and Foxtel set top box networks. This figure is up 4.21% on the 2019 series. Big audience increases in Melb (+21%), Bris (+22%), Adel (+20%), leading to a 14% FTA metro increase and 9% on FTA, Fox down 11%
2020 AFL season and finals ratings total 87.6m across the Seven and Fox STB networks. This is up 4.32% on last year (3.6m). Streaming not included. Prelim O/N data only. (Does not include preseason, or AFLW.)
2020 AFL Grand Final
- National 3.812m
- Metro 2.979m Regional 833k)
- Metro – Syd 413k, Melb 1,583m, Bris 383k, Adel 265k Perth 335k
- Reg – QLD 141k, NNSW 131k, SNSW 120k, Vic 260k, Tas 98k, WA 82k OZtam Prelim Overnight Data
AFl Grand Final Ratings up 29% on last year. Metro audience of 2.979m outrated the 2.939m who watched nationally last year. Highest rating grand final since 2016 rated 4.121m and well short of the record 4.443m who watched in 2005.AFl Grand Final Ratings up 29% on last year. Melbourne TV audience was up 57% on last year and was the largest Grand Final tv audience in Melbourne ever.
AFl Grand Final Ratings up in all metro markets compared to 2019 – Melbourne 57%, Brisbane 21%, Sydney by 11%, Adelaide 14%, Perth 17%.
2011 had the last all Victorian AFL Grand Final with Cats/Magpies and rated 1.389m. The 2020 AFL Grand Final with Cats/Tigers rated 1.583m (+13.9%). Cats played both, Tigers/Pies comparable in terms of support
Seven seem pretty happy Id say. pic.twitter.com/FYQM7LU19X
— sportsindustry (@footyindustryAU) October 24, 2020
*update 2*#AFLGF on Seven ?
•Record 7.5m viewers reached across the day (up 1m on 2016)
•Grand Final peaked at over 4m
•Biggest prime time (5 city) since 2017 #AusOpen Final (also on Seven)
•Grand Final AUD: 3.81m (2.98m 5 city)
Full data attached.
[Seven Sport PR] pic.twitter.com/jSKsiAT9sG
— Mr TV Australia (@MrTVAus) October 25, 2020
Really? In 2020? How much higher do you want!
1.583m Melburnians puts last night’s #AFLGF as one of the highest rating TV programs *ever* in that market, I think 3rd!
OzTam history MELB:
•1.8m: 2006 Comm Games Opening Ceremony (Nine)
•1.6m: 2016 AFL GF Presentations (Seven) https://t.co/ChToWe02NF
— Mr TV Australia (@MrTVAus) October 25, 2020
The 2020 AFL Finals series rated a total of 15.686m (on prelim o/night ratings). This is up 9.44% on 2019. FTA up 14%, Fox down 11%. Every metro market except Perth (-1.7%) had an increase lead by Melb (+29%), Bris (+21%), and Adl (+19%).
The AFL recorded ratings on FTA and Fox STBs of more than 91 million in 2020 with the least number of games since 1993.