Over a million people tuned in to watch the RWC final, creating a record audience share for Three.
The RWC Final delivered overwhelming ratings to Three, the tournament’s free-to-air broadcaster, in partnership with rights holder Spark Sport. It drew an audience of more than 1.2 million, according to Nielsen figures provided by Three owners Warner Bros. Discovery, as well as an astonishing 64.9% share of viewers for the night – an all-time high for Three.
Viewership figures are all the more significant as 25-54 year olds are the audience that is abandoning linear television for streaming and other digital platforms. It hasn’t just been a problem for broadcasters, like rugby rights holder Sky TV, it’s been a problem for rugby itself, with aging audiences less attractive to sponsors and less likely to attend. to matches. Of those watching TV in this demographic, more than three in four were watching the Black Ferns win.
It shows the power of the Black Ferns’ achievement – not just in attracting large audiences, but the exact audience that had proven elusive even for the All Blacks in recent years. It wasn’t just 25-54 either – the 5+ share was almost as large at 73.1, with male and Maori and Pacific audiences again larger at 76.9 and 76, 6 shares respectively. But the popularity must largely be understood as demographically agnostic, as more than 73% of women watched the game – an astonishing result for a code that has traditionally had a male-dominated audience.
These numbers do not include viewers on ThreeNow or Spark Sport, meaning they represent a significant undercount of the game’s true viewership scale. Spark Sport was approached for its own audience and we will put update this story when they arrive.
By way of comparison, most weeks the highest rated TV show for 25-54 year olds is either TVNZ1 News at 6pm or Country Calendar (the same two shows that get top ratings for 5+). The most recent week for which figures are available, News was the most popular show of the week, attracting 142,500 viewers aged 25-54. 107,000 people watched as the Black Ferns beat Wales in the RWC quarter-finals.
The equivalent figure for last night’s game was 478,000 – more than triple the audience for news, or a typical All Blacks game in prime time this year. The fact that the game ended in a spellbinding victory suggests that this whole new audience could well be sustained, or at least a large part of it, if properly organized by NZ Rugby. This instantly changes the dynamic around the Black Ferns when it comes to TV rights, sponsorship and programming.
The team are world champions again and can no longer be ignored – last night’s victory, after last year’s Olympic gold medal, gave them an importance and cultural weight that is unlike anything else in our current sports landscape. The huge audience and demographics it has attracted shows that the sporting landscape in this country will never be the same.