The 2011 Telstra Premiership has emerged as the cleanest on record with fewer suspensions, closer games and fewer stoppages setting the scene for an exhilarating Premiership race that has already grown television audiences, set record membership levels and continued an era of record crowds.

With the Minor Premiership rounds concluded, the 2011 State of the Game Report showed a 14% reduction in the number of playing weeks missed through suspensions from 2010 and a staggering 73% fall over the past seven years.

On the eve of the 2011 Telstra Premiership Finals Series, research in the report shows that fans are increasingly satisfied with the game, believe it is healthier than last year and are more likely to attend in the future.

The report also shows that more people are playing Rugby League than ever before and more are involved in ARLD and One Community programmes.

Figures show that the 2011 Telstra Premiership is the only Australian sporting competition to maintain record crowd levels in a year where it has also achieved record participation levels and broke new ground in social media, becoming the first sport to launch club iPhone apps and a finals iPad app in Australia and becoming the most popular Australian sport on Facebook.

Off the field, Rugby League is also making a positive difference to people’s lives through the One Community and NRL club charity programs, which have helped raise more than $2million for charity and saw players and ambassadors devote over 28,000 hours to community work.

In presenting the 2011 State of the Game report at the NRL today, Mr Gallop paid tribute to the players, clubs, officials, volunteers, members, fans, and broadcasters for the part they have played in one of the closest and cleanest competitions ever.

“This report is an opportunity for everyone to take stock of just how successful the 2011 season has been and what it shows is that game is in great shape across the board,” Mr Gallop said.  

“The game has achieved significant growth across its key indicators and innovations in a wide range of areas from social media, to our community, welfare and education programs, ensure we are connecting with more members and fans than ever before.”

Highlights of the 2011 Telstra Premiership season include:

  • Total regular season crowds of 3.13million are the second highest in history and within 0.6% of the 2010 record (3.15million) despite a significantly higher number of rain-affected matches.
  • NRL Club Memberships have increased by 28% to 180,824, with the Rabbitohs and Dragons the first clubs to break the 20,000 members mark.
  • TV ratings have increased across FOX Sports, the Nine, WIN and NBN Networks with average FTA ratings 1.3% higher and FOX Sports ratings higher across all timeslots.
  • Ruby League boasts 74 of the Top 100 most watched programs on Subscription Television and the three most watched sporting events on FTA.
  • The NRL set new records in social media, becoming the first Australian sport to reach 375,000 fans on Facebook and the first code in the country to launch a finals iPad app and club iPhone apps.
  • The 2011 Telstra Premiership was the ‘cleanest’ in memory with a dramatic fall in the number of suspensions and charges for misconduct on-field, despite Round 25 contributing 12 charges and 16 weeks in suspension to the overall total of 70 charges and 53 ‘playing weeks’ lost through suspension.

Download the complete 2011 State of the Game report