Canberra‘s rise has captured the imagination. Photo: Brendon Thorne/Getty Images
Canberra‘s rise has captured the imagination. Photo: Brendon Thorne/Getty Images

NRL grand final ready to crash tackle AFL

The NRL grand final is ready to crash tackle AFL in the cutthroat television ratings war.

While NRL ratings soared last weekend, the AFL crashed badly through a lopsided grand final involving a hapless Sydney side.

It was the lowest AFL grand final audience in 26 years, toppling nearly 20 per cent.

Conversely, the NRL secured booming television ratings for its two preliminary finals - Canberra versus Souths on Friday night and Sydney Roosters against Melbourne the following evening.

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Canberra‘s rise has captured the imagination. Photo: Brendon Thorne/Getty Images
Canberra‘s rise has captured the imagination. Photo: Brendon Thorne/Getty Images

 

It has TV industry sources firmly believing the NRL grand final can surpass the AFL's lacklustre ratings this season.

One source said: "Wouldn't that knock the stuffing out of the AFL."

Around 1.6 million people watched Friday night's NRL game, 1.7 million on Saturday evening.

It was an underwhelming event for GWS fans and the AFL. Photo: Damian Shaw
It was an underwhelming event for GWS fans and the AFL. Photo: Damian Shaw

The Roosters-Storm game pulled the biggest preliminary finals audience since 2014. It was a 13 per cent increase on last year. Friday night's game secured a 10 per cent rise on last year.

Canberra's feel-good re-emergence in a grand final will only enhance the NRL's chances of toppling the AFL.

The AFL decider - where Richmond defeated GWS by 89 points - attracted a national audience of 2.9 million viewers. That figure was the lowest since official figures were recorded back in 2003.

That was a decrease of 441,000 viewers on last year.