Leading into the 2019 NRL season, the governing body made several rule changes in an effort to reduce stoppage time, which has potentially led to increased fan engagement through the first seven rounds of the season compared to 2018.
To date this season, total free-to-air television audiences have increased by more than 4%, national total subscription viewership has increased by 3%, club memberships have increased by 3% and total attendances have increased by more than 2%.
The NRL is attributing these increases in fan engagement to the rule changes which have resulted in more than 300 fewer penalties awarded by referees compared to the same period in 2018, along with an increase in ‘ball in play’ time by an average of one minute 45 seconds per match.
Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) chair, Peter Beattie, said the start of the season has been more competitive and there is much more excitement for the NRL in 2019.
“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,” he said.
The inaugural Magic Round will be held in Brisbane from May 9-12, where eight games will be competing at Suncorp Stadium to make up the ninth round of the 2019 Telstra Premiership NRL season.