(Australian Associated Press)
The AFL’s much-hyped return from COVID-19-enforced shutdown has delivered bumper broadcast ratings despite several sub-standard games.
Fans hungry for their first taste of football in nearly 12 weeks warmly welcomed the AFL back, with almost 5.8 million tuning in across round two.
That figure – based on OzTAM data – equates to a 1.8 million bump on last year’s average of 3.969 million per regular-season round.
Thursday and Friday night’s prime-time blockbusters propped up the result.
Collingwood and Richmond’s dour 36-all draw attracted a national audience of 1.643m across free-to-air and subscription channels, while Geelong’s 61-point blowout of Hawthorn had 1.278m viewers.
Essendon’s six-point win over Sydney was the next highest-rated match with 876,000, with the one-sided Port Adelaide-Adelaide showdown also attracting 690,000 nationally.
Those matches were broadcast live into most or all five major metro markets on free-to-air television.
The figures will make for nice reading for the AFL’s television partners Seven Network and Foxtel, after chief executive Gillon McLachlan rubber-stamped a revised broadcast deal late last week.
Seven and Foxtel incorporated canned crowd noise into their broadcasts across all nine games to a mixed response, with some fans bemused by the addition of cheering after Thursday night’s draw.
Retaining most of the 5.8m audience in round three will prove difficult, as shown by the NRL when figures for Thursday’s second-up Brisbane-Sydney Roosters clash crashed by 500,000.