Ministry of Sport

Did AFL Expansion Cause Lowest Grand Final Audience In 26 years?

The 2019 AFL Grand Final has delivered the lowest audience in 26 years, with total finals attendances down almost 20 per cent.

An average national audience of 2.939 Million tuned in to watch Richmond secure an 89 point victory over the Western Sydney Giants, marking the lowest on record since figures started being recorded in 2003 and significantly lower than last years average of 3.38m.

The match was watched by an average 5-City metro audience of just 2.197 million viewers – the lowest metro audience for a Grand Final since 1993 when just 2.171 Million tuned in to see Essendon defeat Carlton.

The dismal grand final result has experts suggesting that broadcasters will be asking for the event to be moved into a twilight timeslot to boost viewership numbers.

According to the Melbourne Cricket Club, the MCG was sold out to capacity with an expected 100,024 fans descending on the ground, however official crowd numbers have come in at 100,014, narrowly missing the target.

Concern about the cost of northern expansion has been raised in the media since the Giants entered the league and with total finals attendances at 563,460 – down 19.5% from 700,393 in 2018, the argument is tipped to continue by some pundits.

Arguably, since entering the national competition, Giants membership has trebled to 30,108, a figure that outstrips every Sydney-based NRL club and commercial sponsorship is also in the top third of AFL clubs.

With the 2019 NRL Grand Final to be held at ANZ Stadium on Sunday, October 6th, which will be the last time before it is temporarily closed for the $810 million redevelopment, figures will soon be released to determine who wins the annual TV rating battle.

Shaun Carney

Shaun Carney