NRL TV numbers crash after big return

Ed Jackson
There were 518,000 less TV viewers for the Broncos-Roosters game than the Eels-Broncos a week ago

The NRL's big TV numbers following the competition's post COVID-19 shutdown restart have crashed, with over 500,000 less tuning in for Thursday's match between Brisbane and Sydney Roosters.

Mediaweek reports a total of 619,000 watched the game on Channel Nine across metro and regional areas.

That figure is a stark contrast to last week's combined free-to-air audience of 952,000 for Brisbane's game against Parramatta last Thursday.

That match, the first professional sport broadcast in Australia since March due to the coronavirus pandemic, drew ratings records as the NRL bathed in the sporting spotlight.

The Nine Network easily won the ratings battle last week with 30.3 per cent of the audience share, well ahead of rivals Seven (23.6 per cent) and Channel 10 (22.1 per cent).

Thursday's numbers meant Nine's share dropped to 24.7 per cent, with Seven (27.3 per cent) and Channel 10 (24.8 per cent) topping the network for the night.

The rating of 401,000 on Fox Sports made last week's match the pay TV network's most watched regular season simulcast broadcast.

Just as on free-to-air, Thursday's numbers were a significant reduction for Fox however with an audience of 216,000 recorded.

In total the game had a combined audience of 835,000 compared to last week's 1,353,000.

Last year's match between the Roosters and Broncos was also televised on a Thursday night with 941,000 tuning in - 106,000 more than Thursday's figures.

A glimmer of positivity for the NRL is Thursday's audience is up on the combined figure for the round two Thursday night match between North Queensland and Canterbury (801,000) in March.

That figure however included competition from the AFL season opener between Richmond and Carlton as well as featuring two lower-profile clubs than Thursday's game.