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Reigning premiers the Rabbitohs hardly missed a beat when they thrashed Brisbane in Round 1.

The Telstra Premiership is off to a strong start with higher attendances, strong ratings and a massive social media response to the first round of matches.

A total of 142,301 fans attended the eight Premiership games – 10,000 more than in the first round last year.

In addition, the opening game of the season, between the Broncos and Rabbitohs attracted a national television audience of more than one million viewers.

And, at peak periods, up to half a million unique users interacted about NRL games on Facebook and other social media platforms.

Head of Marketing Lewis Pullen said the new look schedule meant the NRL would be able to come off a strong opening weekend straight into one of the biggest blockbusters of the year… between the Rabbitohs and Roosters at ANZ Stadium on Sunday.

Other matches, particularly the Bulldogs versus Eels game at ANZ Stadium on Friday night, were also expected to attract strong crowds.

“We put a lot of work into improving the schedule this year and the early signs are that it is proving popular with fans,” he said.

Mr Pullen said more than 100,000 fans attended matches before the start of the Telstra Premiership – including the Auckland Nines, All Stars and World Club Series matches.

“In other words, about a quarter of a million fans have already attended matches this year,” he said.

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