It's the first AFL round of the year and this time the media's fancy turned to comparing the audience numbers for Seven's FTA coverage and the Pay TV coverage.
For the first time ever Seven and Foxtel/Austar will be broadcasting every AFL game this season (except the Grand Final) at the same time, whether it's on Fox Footy on Pay TV or on Seven's main channel or 7mate, as allowed now under the new contract and anti-siphoning laws.
And contrary to reports this morning, the national TV audience for both broadcasts was an impressive 1.148 million, which will please the AFL. A total of 897,000 watched the FTA coverage on Seven in the metro markets and its affiliates in the regions (7Qld and Prime).
A further 251,000 watched the coverage on pay TV across the country (196,000 in the five metro markets). That was a reasonable outcome for Pay TV. The game was the third most watched program on Pay TV last week, ranking after the 290,000 who watched the Rugby League game between Cronulla and Many last Monday night and the 283,000 who watched St George account for Manly on Saturday night.
By way of comparison, the Friday night Rugby League game between Penrith and a woeful Parramatta (7.30 on in Sydney) totaled 1.116 million shown in Sydney, Brisbane and the regional markets. The later game between Brisbane and Souths Sydney from Perth averaged another 673,000 viewers.
So the combined Rugby League audience on Friday night on Nine was a massive 1.789 million, easily out distancing the AFL game the following night. But Sydney and GWS are not big drawing clubs.