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The Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) held its monthly Commission meeting today, with key metric updates on the first seven rounds of the Telstra Premiership and an update on the overall footprint strategy leading the agenda.

The Commission also received a guest presentation and discussion from News Corporation Australia Executive Chair, Michael Miller, together with Foxtel Chief Executive, Patrick Delany, on the current and future media landscape.

In relation to key metrics following the first seven rounds of the season, the Commission was updated on significant improvements in statistical trends, with adjustments made in the off-season with the intention to minimise stoppages throughout matches.

To date this season, there have been more than 300 fewer penalties awarded by referees compared to the same period in 2018. Combined with other on-field adjustments intended to reduce stoppages, ball in play time has increased by an average of 1m 45s more per match, equating to almost 100 more minutes of additional action for fans to enjoy.

In addition, and in comparison to this time last season, total free-to-air television audiences have increased by more than 4%, national total subscription viewership have increased by 3%, club memberships have increased by 3% and total attendances have increased by more than 2%.

An update was also provided on the progress of the footprint strategy, due to be delivered by the end of the year, with a range of analysis and forecasting underway.

ARLC Chair, Peter Beattie said the start of the season had re-engaged fans, with just eight points separating the 16 clubs.

“We have witnessed some incredible matches, opened a brand new stadium in western Sydney and commemorated our service men and women as part of ANZAC Round,” Mr Beattie said.

“We have some exciting rounds to look forward to, including the first of its kind – Magic Round in Brisbane next week – and Indigenous Round two weeks later.

“Overall, our game is in good shape and we are continuing to undertake important work behind the scenes on a range of programs, including in the areas of integrity, participation and the future of our game.

“In the case of our footprint strategy, I have said before that our fans are at the centre of every decision we make. The next phase will provide an opportunity for us to engage with our key stakeholders to obtain their views and feedback.

“We will continue to focus on what is best for the future of rugby league overall, ultimately leading to a stronger and more unified game, on and off the field.”