NRL ratings set to get even better in 2015
On the back of a massive year in television ratings in 2014, NRL could be an even bigger spectacle in 2015 boosted by live free-to-air Sunday football.
NRL provided the three highest-rating shows on Australian television last year and held four of the top five sporting programs. Built on anticipation of the NSW Blues snapping an eight-year State of Origin drought, Origin II drew a massive 4,118,000 viewers.
Origin Game I, the second-highest rating show of the year, drew 4,093,000 viewers becoming the most-watched Origin series opener in history.
The NRL Grand Final, which saw the Rabbitohs snap a 43-year premiership drought, was the third most-viewed program with 3,965,000 viewers – the most-watched Grand Final ever.
In other positive ratings news, the mid-season Trans Tasman Test was the most-watched in that fixture's history, up nine per cent on last year to draw 1,470,000 million viewers. Ratings in 2015 could be even bigger.
Welcoming the move to live Sunday football late last year, NRL CEO Dave Smith said there would be plenty of big games on Sundays.
"There is nothing better than watching games live, and now it is going to become a prime-time reality on Sundays," Smith said.
"Channel Nine will show Sunday games live throughout the season so fans will see every minute of the game as it happens. It means NRL games will be shown live on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday in 2015."
All 26 Sunday matches will be shown live in Sydney, with 23 live matches in Brisbane once daylight saving ends.
"In other words, fans will see some of the top teams of 2014, including the premiers South Sydney, in blockbuster matches to kick off the Sunday coverage," Smith said.
"We are scheduling big games that people want to watch on Sundays. So not only will we have a great offering on television, but there will be better games for fans at the ground on Sunday afternoons - when so many families are able to attend."
Nine's head of sport, Steve Crawley, added: "Our aim is to deliver the best possible sporting spectacle, and that means showing NRL matches live wherever possible.
"This is a great outcome for clubs, fans and players."
More information about the NRL's television ratings will be available in the 2014 Annual Report to be released on Friday.