Record numbers switching on to see sport at its best

Date published: Friday, March 9, 2012

The 2012 Stobart Super League season continues to prove a massive draw at both the turnstiles and the box office with bumper crowds and television audiences tuning in to see sporting rivalry at its best.

After the first five weeks of Super League, attendances are almost 10 per cent up on the corresponding period last year whilst television viewing figures are at record levels.

Comparisons with Rounds Two to Five of 2012 and last year – figures from the opening rounds have been disregarded because of the statistical skew caused by Magic Weekend, which kicked off the 2011 season – show a sport enjoying burgeoning popularity.

The average aggregate crowd per round so far in 2012 is 67,331, a 9.67 per cent increase on 2011 when the aggregate stood at 61,399.

The success of Rugby League’s elite competition is even more marked on the small screen with figures produced by SportBusiness Intelligence showing that more than one million people each week are now watching the thrills and spills of Super League on television.

The average weekly audience for the 10 Super League matches shown live on Sky Sports and Sky Sports HD in 2012 is 33 per cent higher than the 2011 season average on Sky.

Super League remains a big draw card on Sky Sports 1 with last Friday’s Castleford Tigers v Leeds Rhinos match attracting the biggest audience of the day on the channel. The match was watched by a crowd of over 9,000 people in front of a TV audience that was almost identical to that which tuned in to watch Leeds defeat St Helens in the 2011 Super League Grand Final.

Sky Sports have also boosted their coverage of the sport with the introduction of Super League Full-Time on Sunday evenings and the return of Super League Supermen, which is co-hosted by England star Sam Tomkins. Sky Sports News have also increased their Super League output throughout the week.

“The Stobart Super League continues to provide high quality entertainment on a weekly basis and this is reflected in the attendances and viewing figures we have seen so far,” said RFL Chief Executive Nigel Wood.

“Sky Sports continue to raise the bar and the increased depth and quality of their coverage is attracting increasing numbers of viewers to the sport which, at the start of a new five year contract, is enormously gratifying.”

Early figures from the BBC suggest that the audience for the Super League Show has also increased significantly with the combined viewing figures for the BBC regions, network and BBC iPlayer more than double what they were in 2011.

“We are delighted with the figures which fully vindicate our decision to move the Super League Show from Sunday to a new Monday slot,” said Charles Runcie, the BBC’s Head of Sport in the English Regions.

“The feedback we have had on the Show’s new format and the comments on the editorial content are universally positive and it’s fantastic that more people than ever before are seeing Super League action on BBC1, BBC2 and the BBC iPlayer.”

Sports fans will get more opportunities to watch televised Rugby League action from tonight (Thursday March 8) when Premier Sports begins its weekly live broadcasts of Co-operative Championships matches with coverage of Leigh Centurions v Batley Bulldogs (7.30).

To celebrate the launch of the Championships season, Premier Sports are offering Rugby League fans the chance to purchase a 12-month season ticket to Premier Sports, Sky Channel 433, for just £79.99.

Not only can Rugby League fans save £21 off the standard sale price, but £10 from every season ticket will be given back to the subscriber’s club of choice.

To take advantage of this offer fans can subscribe on-line at www.premiersports.tv or via phone by calling 0871 663 9000 before March 31 2012 and will be given the option to select which Championship club they want the £10 to go to.