ANALYSIS | The 2019 NRL Season By The TV Rating Numbers
Its been another big year for Rugby League in 2019 as 113.5 million people tuned in to see the preseason, home and away season, NRLW, Origin, Representative footy and finals.
However, while this figure was enough to get it over the AFL again in 2019, it was down more than 6% on the 2018 season.
Like the AFL, the NRL also was ambushed by a high rating Ashes series in the second half of the season, and a mediocre Grand Final audience didn't help much either.
Please note that New Zealand figures were not available, and haven't been since 2015. I was also unable to find Telstra or Live Pass data for the NRL.
The 2019 NRL Season rated 88.201 million viewers at an average viewership of 459,000 per game, with an almost even split between free to air viewers on Nine and GEM, as well as Fox League.
The highest rating game of the season was in round 1 between Melbourne and Brisbane, which rated 1.183 million. Filling out the top 5 was Brisbane v Nth Queensland (R2), Brisbane v St George (R3), South Sydney v Brisbane (R8) and Brisbane v Parramatta (R24)
Only two games this year crossed the million mark, down from 5 in 2018. Both of these matches were in the first two rounds.
Round 1s Melbourne v Brisbane was the highest rating game on the Nine network with 849,000 watching nationally. Rounding out the top 5 games on Free to air was Brisbane v St George (R3), Brisbane v Nth Queensland (R2), Sth Sydney v Brisbane (R8), and Sydney v Sth Sydney (r1).
Round 17s Melbourne v Cronulla was the highest rating game on Foxtel with 357,000 viewers. Filling in the top 5 was Sth Sydney v Melbourne (R21), Melbourne v Brisbane (R1), Melbourne v Parramatta (R9) and Brisbane v Cronulla (R7).
On 9Now, the highest live VPM recorded was for Parramatta v Wests Tigers in round 6 with 26,000 viewers.
State of Origin
State of Origin was watched by an average audience of 8.87m over the three matches, down 4% on the 2018 series. The highest game of the series was Origin 1 which rated 3.207 million viewers. – it's also the highest rating live game on television this year.
Women's Origin was watched by 783,000 across the Nine and Fox networks.
Ratings for the NRLW held firm during the season, with FTA ratings down slightly in the five cities, but up on Foxtel. The 2019 NRLW Grand Final TV ratings were 321k metro FTA (up 28%, and same as the 2019 AFLW Grand Final) and 109k on Fox (up 38%)
The 2019 Finals series was watched by 12.241 million viewers, down 7% on the 2018 seasons finals. The most-watched finals were both in the Preliminary weekend with Sydney v Melbourne reeling in 1.696m people in.
The Grand Final between Sydney and Canberra had some lacklustre ratings for such a close match, with the lowest grand final ratings in years being reported as 2.642 million people tuned in across the Nine network - down 12.8% on the 2018 decider.
During the premiership season, Brisbane was the most-watched team on television with more than 16 million people tuning in to see them play throughout the season, averaging 680,000 viewers per match. They also had the top rating averages on both Nine (640k) and Foxleague (254k).
Rounding out the top 5 on average figures on Nine was Melbourne (593k), Sth Sydney (584k), Nth Queensland (575k) and Parramatta (560k)
Completing the Foxtel top 5 on average figures was Melbourne (251k), Wests (250k), Parramatta (245k) and South Sydney (243k).
A tale of two cities….the rest
In Sydney, the highest rating match was Round 12s Parramatta v South Sydney game which rated 259,000. 13.9 million people watched the NRL on Nine in Sydney in 2019 at an average of 197,000 per game. Matches involving Sydney teams rated an average of 198,000, while matches including both sides from outside Sydney rated an average of 186,000.
In Brisbane, the highest rating game was Round 2s Brisbane v North Queensland fixture which rated 240,000. 8.743 million people watched on Nine during the season at an average audience of 123,000 per game. Matches involving the Broncos average 173,000 for the season, while Queensland sides averaged 157,000. Matches involving two out of state teams rated an average of 107,000.
Outside of the two main cities, the highest rating game in Melbourne/Adelaide/Perth was the 66,000 who watched Melbourne v Brisbane in Round 1. The same game also had the highest rating regional audience with 325,000
While complete figures aren't available, Kayo reported that NRL fans were watching an average of 3.5 hours each week, with some regular season games reaching nearly 70,000 users.
On 9NOW, an average of 2.9 million minutes was streamed online every round, with every round recording significant increases on the previous season.
The Canterbury Cup and Instrust Cups were beset with wildly fluctuating ratings due to being shifted to and from Nines primary channel when the Super Netball was on, with the start, middle and end of season ratings vastly different from the rest.
The NSW Canterbury Cup rated 567,000 over the season at an average of 25,000 per game. The Grand Final rated 80,000 in Sydney.
The QLD Intrust Cup rated 398,000 over the season at an average of 17,000 per game. The Grand Final rated 62,000 in Brisbane.
The Residents Cup rated just 16,000 on GEM.
The State Championship between Newtown and Burleigh heads rated 223,000 in the five cities.