” The 2021 season delivered outstanding viewership numbers, while attendances were exceptionally pleasing when considering only 60 of 198 games in the men’s season were played with no impact to capacity and 37 games (nearly one in five) were played with no crowd at all” – AFL CEO Gillon Mclachlan
TV Broadcasters in 2021- Seven, Foxtel, Kayo
The following information is from the 2021 AFL Annual Report unless otherwise linked.
Fox Footy has hit the ground running with the pre-season 2021 AFL AAMI Community Series averaging 131,000 viewers, the highest rating pre-season tournament since 2013 (average 147,000 over 30 matches).
The 9-match 2021 tournament was up +51% on the first nine matches of the 2020 tournament and up +53% on the entire 2020 tournament average.
Foxtel audiences grew 26% on the first nine matches Year on Year, and 29% on the 2020 tournament average, while streaming on Kayo grew 142% on the first nine matches YoY, and 134% on the 2020 tournament average.
The Collingwood v Richmond blockbuster on Friday night was the highest rating game with an audience of 197,000 across Foxtel & Kayo.
This is the largest AFL pre-season audience since 2016 (Geelong v Collingwood) and the 6th highest pre-season game on record. Saturday night’s Geelong v Essendon game was the #2 most viewed, followed by Carlton v St Kilda on Thursday night.
The AFLW attracted its highest-ever viewership in 2021, with a 58 per cent increase in viewership relative to 2019, reaching 5.4 million viewers. The season started in great fashion as round one delivered the highest-rating round of AFLW since 2018 and the third highest in its history (behind rounds one and two of the inaugural season in 2017).
The AFLW 2021 season concluded with the Brisbane Lions’ victory over the Adelaide Crows, with an average audience of 118,000 on Foxtel and Kayo, up 50 per cent on the 2019 Grand Final, ranking it as the fourth-highest
rating AFLW game ever on subscription television.
The Brisbane Lions v Collingwood final in week two, played in the Saturday twilight timeslot, was the second most-watched final with an average audience of more
than 215,000 viewers, followed by the Adelaide Crows v Melbourne final on the same weekend (187,000).
The 2021 AFLW season attracted average audiences of 35,000 across 68 games on Foxtel and Kayo, up 17 per cent on the similar 2019 year and up eight per cent on the shortened 46-game 2020 season.
On the eve of 2021 AFLW Finals the latest data from Roy Morgan showed over 2.6 million Australians aged 14+ (12.4%) watched AFLW matches on TV in the year to December 2020. This represented a small increase of 4,000 (+0.2%) on a year earlier but was down on the record high viewership reached during 2020.
Viewership for the 2021 AFL season saw solid growth at nine per cent for home and away games, compared with pre-COVID 2019 levels. Streaming has been the primary driver in viewership figures increasing almost 296 per cent relative to 2019 – bolstering figures with younger demographics and adding an average 90,000 viewers per game.
AFL TV ratings (free-to-air and subscription) continue to be healthy and are seeing less declines than overall trends on these platform.
The highly successful round 12 Dreamtime Game in Perth between Essendon and Richmond at Optus Stadium attracted 1.12 million television viewers nationally, making it the highest-rating Saturday night home and away match in seven years.
There were significant television ratings outcomes throughout September. Week one of the Toyota AFL Finals Series saw a total average audience of 5.87 million, a 13 per cent increase compared with the first week of the 2019 Toyota AFL Finals Series. The opening match of the Finals Series between Port Adelaide and the Geelong Cats attracted an overall audience of 1.49 million with the TV audience in Adelaide reaching 178,000 viewers, a 54 per cent increase compared to the first week of the 2019 Toyota AFL Finals Series.
An overall audience of 1.52 million tuned in to the Qualifying Final between Melbourne and the Brisbane Lions played on Saturday night, an increase of 22 per cent compared to the same timeslot in 2019. The game also attracted Brisbane’s highest ever Saturday night TV audience in the first week of finals.
Sunday’s Elimination Final between the Western Bulldogs and Essendon attracted a national broadcast audience of 1.51m, including an audience in Melbourne of 529,000.
A week later, the Brisbane Lions v Western Bulldogs Saturday night semi-final – which was decided by one point – attracted an overall audience of 1.77 million, the largest semi-final audience of the past four seasons. Week Two of the 2021 Toyota AFL Finals featuring the Geelong Cats, GWS GIANTS, Brisbane Lions and the Western Bulldogs attracted a total audience of 3.15 million viewers, up nine per cent on Week Two of the 2019 Toyota AFL Finals.
The Toyota AFL Grand Final between Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs, which attracted a national average audience of 4.16 million on the Seven Network, was the highest-watched television program in Australia. It was with the highest-ever audience in Melbourne and the highest-ever in Perth for an AFL match since 2013 (even exceeding West Coast winning the 2018 premiership). The significant investment in the pre-match show and adjusted timeslot also saw a record pre-match show audience of nearly two million viewers. The AFL Grand Final achieved the highest average audience since 2016 and was up 40 per cent compared with the 2019 decider.
Given Melbourne was in lockdown and that the grand final was contested in Perth by two Melbourne teams, it was perhaps unsurprising that the grand final attracted more Melburnian TV viewers (1.64 million on average) than any decider that came before it. On average, the grand final was also watched by more Perth TV viewers (483,000) than any AFL/VFL grand final featuring two non-West Australian teams.
The highest ever prime time commercial shares for any network in OzTAM history were recorded across several capital cities, including Melbourne with an 88.9% commercial share, Adelaide (77.3%) and Perth (76.9%).
- AFL Grand Final: Melbourne v Western Bulldogs 3.91 viewers nationally, 3.01 in the capital cities. Reached 6.34 million nationally.
- Presentations: 3.51 million viewers nationally, 2.67 million in the capital cities.
- On The Ground: 2.98 million viewers nationally, 2.27 million in the capital cities.
- Pre-Match entertainment: 1.99 million viewers nationally, 1.46 million in the capital cities.
- Post Match: 1.62 million viewers nationally, 1.28 million in the capital cities.
City by City
Adelaide had 87 games shown on Free to Air Television in 2021 on Seven and 7mate, with an aggregate audiences of 6.48m at an average of 74,000 per match. The Showdowns were the highest rating games in the city during the season with Round 8 rating 151,000 and Round 21 ratings 150,000. Crows games averaged 86,000, while Port games averaged 93,000.
Ports final in week 1 rated 177,000, while its week 3 final rated 164,000. The Grand Final rated 298,000.
Brisbane had 82 games shown on Free to Air television in 2021 on Seven and 7mate with an aggregate audience of 2.811m with an average of 34,000 per match. The highest rating game in the season was Roind 15s Thursday night game with 107,000 viewers.
Matches involving Brisbane rateds an average of 59,000, while matches involving Gold Coast rateds an average of 25,000. The Queensland derbys rated 44,000 and 39,000 in Brisbane.
Brisbanes Week 1 final rated 96,000, while the Week 2 final rated 88,000. The Grand Final rated 214,000.
Melbourne had 76 games shown on Free to Air television on Seven and 7mate with an aggregate audience of 20.757m and an average of 273,000. The highest rating game in the season was 466,000 for the dreamtime game in Round 12.
The Grand Final rated 1.636m while the week 3 final between the Cats and Dopgs rated 632,000.
There were no Perth teams in the finals. The Grand FInal rated 483,000, while the week 3 final between the Cats and Dogs rated 149,000.
Sydney had 85 games shown on Free to Air tv on Seven and 7mate with an aggregate audience of 2.894m at an average of 34,000. The highest rating game in the season was 92,000 for the Swans and Suns in Round 23.
Matches involving the Swans rated an average of 62,000, whjile matches involving GWS rated 29,000. Matches involving neither Sydney side rated 25,000.
The Swans and Giants week 1 final rated 172,000, while the Giants week 2 final rated 47,000. The Grand Final rated 395,000.
Matches on Foxtel rated an average of 243,000 during the season and 331,000 during the finals. The highest rating game on Foxtel during the season was 268,000 for Round 12s Adelaide and Collingwood game, while the lowest rating game was 37,000 for Round 15s North Melbourne and Gold Coast match. The highest rating final was the Dogs and Cats week 3 final with 428,000 viewers, while Week 2s final; between the Dogs and Lions rated 425,000.
- Last Thursday’s Richmond v Carlton season opener, which saw an average audience of 365,000, was the second-best average audience for a season opener in subscription television history.
- Adelaide v Geelong was the number two game of the round with an average audience of 335,000 and the highest rating clash for this fixture since 2016.
- Saturday night’s Essendon v Hawthorn and Brisbane v Sydney games had a cumulative audience of 365,000, up 15% on the cumulative audience of Round 1 Saturday night in 2019 (Bulldogs v Sydney and Brisbane v West Coast) and up 46% on Round 1 Saturday night last year (GWS v Geelong and Gold Coast v Port Adelaide).
- Sunday night’s West Coast v Gold Coast game had an average audience of 239,000, up 18% on 2019 Round 1 Sunday night average (Fremantle v North Melbourne) and up 9% on last year (West Coast v Melbourne).
The AFL is also continuing to deliver strong results for Fox Footy with this years season currently averaging 243K; up +17% on 2019 (Foxtel and Kayo).
Friday night’s Round 9 opener between St Kilda & Geelong was the highest rating game of the round with 296k viewers.
Overall, Round 9 averaged 219K; up +29% on 2019 (Foxtel and Kayo)
Finals Week 1
The highest rating Week One of Finals ever on Foxtel platforms (Foxtel / Kayo / Foxtel Now / Foxtel Go).
Finals Week 2
Western Bulldogs vs. Essendon was the number one streamed AFL game of all time (Kayo / Foxtel Now / Foxtel Go).
- 2021 AFL Annual Report, page 58
- 2021 AFL Grand Final breaks TV viewership records
- Strong ratings in Week One of the 2021 Toyota AFL Finals Series
- AFL Community Series breaks viewing records on Fox Footy
- A ‘Magic Round’ of NRL and a highly competitive round of AFL has seen Foxtel and Kayo achieve more big audience figures.
- AFL thanks supporters for strong ratings in Week One of the 2021 Toyota AFL Finals Series
- Week Two of the 2021 Toyota AFL Finals Series Delivers Strong Ratings