NRL disputes AFL audience claim

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NRL disputes AFL audience claim

Post by Redszone on Wed Mar 23, 2011 1:31 pm

Source: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/media/nrl-disputes-afl-audience-claim/story-e6frg996-1226025045416

A FIERCE battle over audience figures has broken out between Australia's two biggest football codes as they gear up for broadcasting rights negotiations.

The National Rugby League has moved to shoot down claims published last week that the Australian Football League was the most-watched football code in Australia.
A press report claimed the AFL was the most watched sport on TV, with an average of 14.64 million viewers per club over the course of a season.
This compared with the NRL's average audience if 13.81 million per club, the report said.

While the AFL was keen to talk up its audience numbers, the same report revealed that the NRL outpaced the AFL in cumulative audience across the entire season by more than 9 million viewers.
"Overall, the NRL delivered a total cumulative audience of 120.6 million across all coverage compared to the 111.1 million for the AFL," the report said.

While the AFL claimed, on a club-by-club basis, that it was ahead of its rival, the NRL also finished ahead in terms of average audience by fixture, with an audience of 1.01 million on free-to-air TV compared with 884,000 for the AFL.

The report comes at a critical time for both codes, which are in the midst of rights negotiations with commercial broadcasters and Foxtel.

The AFL talks are understood to be more advanced, but all parties are waiting on the communications minister to finalise anti-siphoning rules that will decide the mechanism that divides sports rights between pay-TV and free-to-air television.

The NRL negotiations will begin in earnest once the new governing structure of the NRL is bedded down following News Limited's (publisher of The Australian) exit.

Both codes are aiming for multi-year deals worth close $1 billion each.

The NRL rights split between the Nine Network and Foxtel commanded an estimated $500 million when they were last negotiated in 2006. At the same time the AFL was worth $780m, split between Seven and Ten.

The figures also show that the NRL attracted 241,000 viewers on Fox Sports for each fixture, compared with the AFL, which drew 170,000.

While the AFL had used the report to talk up its value to sponsors, it is believed the NRL will use it as a cornerstone in its push for a boost in the price it extracts for its broadcast rights when negotiations begin later this year.

Shane Mattiske, the NRL's director of strategic projects, said the report had reinforced the NRL's dominance on pay-TV ahead of the negotiations.

"If the AFL is going to get a lift out of Foxtel, it means we are going to have to get an even greater lift given how critical we are to Foxtel," he said. "In 2010, we had 73 of the top 100 programs on Foxtel and the AFL only made eight."

Mr Mattiske said there was little understanding of the NRL's dominance of the pay-TV sector in the broader community .

"If pay-TV lost rugby league in the crucial markets of NSW and Queensland, then it would have dire effects. They just simply cannot afford to lose us," he said.


Last week, Fox Sports Monday Night Football broadcast set a new record for the broadcaster with an average of 365,000 viewers tuning in to the clash between the Bulldogs and Tigers.

"It positions us very strongly when you come to think about the next round of media rights," Mr Mattiske said.

The report found that while the AFL delivered a higher free-to-air cumulative audience when the grand final replay was taken into account, without the replay the NRL triumphed.

Collingwood proved the most popular club across the board with a cumulative audience of just over 23 million, only narrowly defeating the St George Dragons when the grand final replay was discounted.

Two weeks ago, Foxtel chief executive Kim Williams told The Australian and Deutsche Bank Future of Media Forum that he was keen to bid for a bigger slice of the AFL pie.

The push by Foxtel to get more of the AFL, sparked by changes to anti-siphoning legislation, has sparked concerns within the NRL that any increased commitment to the AFL could come at a cost to the NRL's coverage on pay-TV.

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Re: NRL disputes AFL audience claim

Post by Redszone on Wed Mar 23, 2011 1:33 pm

Seems to me that AFL are up to their tricks again, This one has backfired. The Rugby League's TV Ratings out do the AFL's by a country mile.

But these types of tricks are not surprising given who is in charge of the AFL.

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