Despite all the controversy and negative media surrounding ASADA’s ‘drugs in sport’ investigation, record rugby league ticket sales proves Australian sport fans are staying loyal to their teams.
The 2013 NRL Telstra Premiership got off to the perfect start setting two 1st round attendance records for NRL games. Firstly, the largest ever regular season Sydney crowd (35,952), and the biggest ever television audience (more than 1.37 million viewers, a 7% increase from the 2012 season-opener).
Additionally, the Good Friday Bulldogs v Rabbitohs matchup set an all time NRL attendance record of 51, 686. The previous record was set in round 26 of the 2011 season at Suncorp Stadium for Darren Lockyer’s final match (50,859).
The NRL has taken massive steps in the last two years, with the 2012 and 2013 seasons delivering key improvements.
Credit must be given for the amount of growth that has occurred off the field. Recently we can see that Fox Sports is attempting to duplicate their successful AFL TV shows by pushing the equivalent NRL programs.
Fans these days are thirsty for knowledge, praying for some intelligent analyse on Rugby League. We have grown sick of the boring, mind numbing garbage that has been dished up for the last 20 or so years on a local TV network. How ‘Show X’ has got away with claiming to be about Rugby League is a mystery. We use to laugh with Show X, now we laugh at it.
Luckily, we are now privileged with the numerous NRL programs that evaluate current newsworthy topics in the NRL. Peter Sterling, who used to be a part of the rival network NRL show when it was worth watching, now hosts the self-named show “Sterlo” (Thursday Nights, 6:30pm). Sterlo and his NRL minded panel of Matthew Johns, Greg Alexander and Mark Gasnier ensure analysis is high on the agenda. On top of taking the show into the dressing rooms and onto the training grounds, they conduct many one-on-one player interviews. Most importantly, they stick to analysing the games each round.
In terms of growth, we are in arguable the most successful era of Rugby League, and it’s brilliant to see the game continue to grow on and off the field. Other programs being heavily advertised that offer viewers comprehensive breakdowns include; The Matty Johns Show, NRL 360, and Back Page Live.
What’s fascinating about these shows is the depth involved in their analysis. It’s now clear that Sterling and Johns left the rival network with the objective of taking Rugby League in a new, unfamiliar direction. Both have been instrumental to Rugby League’s off-field success in recent times.