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AFL Return Dominates Broadcast Numbers and Social Interactions

The AFL’s Thursday night return from the COVID-19 shutdown saw the league record the most-watched free-to-air home and away game in a decade.

Channel Seven’s coverage of the round two clash between the Magpies and Tigers saw an average national audience of 1.275 million, including 1.02 million from metropolitan areas and 273,000 from regional areas, with Fox Footy’s broadcast adding an extra 342,000 viewers.

Channel Seven managing director and head of network sport, Lewis Martin, said, on Friday, the broadcast results highlight the work the network and the AFL have done in preparing for the return of the competition.

“Last night just underlines how much Aussies love their footy and how glad we all are to finally have it back,” Martin said.

“We’ve worked tirelessly for the past three months on some exciting technical innovations and on-air initiatives to further enhance our broadcast for fans at home.

“But the footy will always be at the core of everything we do, and we can’t wait to bring fans what shapes as a compelling season,” he said.

Nielsen Sports’ social content ratings from June 11 until June 14 saw AFL matches account for eight of the top ten (every spot in the top seven) sports TV broadcasts for social engagement, with the remaining two broadcasts being from NRL matches.

The AFL’s blockbuster return on Thursday between the Magpies and Tigers topped all others with over 280,000 interactions on free-to-air, followed by the matchup between the Swans and Bombers that saw 190,000 interactions.

Despite the 2020 AFL season being suspended from March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, causing an extended break between round one and round two of the season, the league managed to maintain its social interactions from the opening round.

Across round two, the AFL totalled 2.956 million social interactions, peaking on Sunday with 828,000 interactions, compared to a total of 3.093 social interactions across round one in March.

Looking individually at AFL clubs, the Collingwood Magpies ranked as the number one team for social interactions in round two, followed by the Geelong Cats and Port Adelaide Power, in a weekend that saw AFL clubs make up eight of the top ten sporting teams in Australia for social engagement.