Bulldogs' historic win delivers Seven highest AFL audience in decade

Arvind Hickman
By Arvind Hickman | 2 October 2016
The 2016 AFL grand final between the Western Bulldogs and the Sydney Swans. Photo: Ben Creagh.

The Western Bulldogs historic victory over the Sydney Swans drew the largest AFL grand final TV audience in a decade, with an average of 4.09 million and a peak of 5.16 million Australians tuning in to watch Seven's coverage.

This included 3.04 million viewers in metropolitan regions, and is up 16% on last year. It is the largest TV audience since the 2006 decider between the Swans and West Coast Eagles.

AFL grand finals still deliver the largest TV audiences of any team sport in the country. The second most popular sport, NRL, has grand final audiencs that are usually around the 2.5 million mark although last year's decider produced similar numbers to the AFL (see how they compare below). This year's State of Origin Game I smashed its metro audience record with 2.7 million viewers tuning in.

For three quarters, the hotly-contested game was shaping up as a classic with both teams neck-and-neck before the Bulldogs broke away in the final quarter to win 13.11.89 to 10.7.67, securing their first flag in 62 years.

While Swans fans will bemoan a lopsided 20-8 free kick count, including several questionable calls that led to Bulldogs' majors, there can be no denying the better team won, ending a fairytale run against more fancied opponents in style.

Across Grand Final day, Seven’s coverage reached over 6.5 million combined in-home viewers, and 4.8 million in metro areas.

In Melbourne, an average audience of 1.45 viewers tuned in and in Sydney the average audience was up 44% to 534,000.

The OzTam stats don’t tell the full picture, however, as many more fans would have clambered into local pubs and clubs to watch AFL’s annual showstopper.

Tonight, the Cronulla Sharks take on the Mebourne Storm in NRL's decider. As it features a Melbourne side, it is unlikely to break records, but the Sharks fairytale run could pull in neutral viewers and most of Sydney (except, perhaps, St George Illawarra Dragons fans) will be hoping a second trophy doesn't head south.

Average and peak audiences

AFL Grand Final 2016 - average and peak

Five city metro breakdown

AFL final 2016 - five city breakdown

AFL Grand Final 2012-2016

Total People, metro five cap
AFL Grand Final – the game itself
2012: Hawthorn vs Sydney: 2.96m
2013: Hawthorn vs Fremantle: 2.72m
2014: Hawthorn vs Sydney: 2.83m
2015: Hawthorn vs West Coast: 2.64m
2016: Bulldogs vs Sydney: 3.04m

NRL Grand Final 2012-2015

Total People, metro five cap
2012: Bulldogs vs Melbourne Storm: 2.57m
2013: Roosters vs Manly Sea Eagles: 2.25m
2014: Rabbitohs vs Bulldogs: 2.62m (highest ratings ever)
2015: Cowboys vs Broncos: 2.44
2016: Storm vs Sharks: ??

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