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AFL Round One Breaks Viewership Records

AFL Round One Breaks Viewership Records

The 2022 Toyota AFL Premiership Season has seen a strong start with a 45% increase in attendance and a corresponding rise in TV audiences.

Over 362 000 AFL fans attended in person matches across round one, with 58 000 people attending the MCG season opener between Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs, making it the highest-ever attended home-and-away match between the two clubs.

Thursday night’s Carlton vs Richmond match attendance fell just short of the 2021 ANZAC Day match’s record, with 72 000 fans piling into the MCG to make it Australia’s second highest sporting event since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

The round’s TV and streaming viewership also broke records with streaming platforms, Foxtel and Kayo, seeing a 25% increase in viewership during the opening game, while TV audiences also increased 2% compared to 2021.

Despite COVID-19 impacts, the AFL has seen consistent viewership growth over the past four years.

3.8 million people tuned into TV broadcasting of 2019’s round one, whilst 2020 saw a 10% increase in viewers with 4.2 million people tuning in.

A further 10% increase was recorded for 2021’s opening round viewership with 4.66million people watching the broadcast.

The additional 2% growth in this year’s broadcast views sees the AFL further extend its lead over the NRL’s viewership growth.

The above graph displays the increase in AFL round one viewership over the past four years.

Sydney recorded its largest ever round one TV audience with Saturday’s GWS Giants vs. Sydney Swans match seeing a 20% growth compared to 2021.

Adelaide saw its largest round one Sunday audience in five years during its Adelaide Crows vs. Fremantle match while Friday’s St Kilda vs. Collingwood match saw a 35% increase in pay TV audience.

AFL CFO and general manager for broadcasting and clubs, Travis Auld, said it was great to see such a large audience emerging after a difficult two years.

“It was fantastic to see members and supporters back at all games across the weekend, especially in Victoria and NSW, where they have been starved of men’s footy for a longer period,” Auld said.

“To have the biggest round of football in Victoria since round one, 2018, is testament to the connection fans have with our game and gives us great momentum to begin the season,” he added.

The increase in viewership and match attendance comes off the back of laxed COVID-19 restrictions, years of on and off lockdowns for the southern states and increasing accessibility to matches for little to no cost via streaming and broadcast services.

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