Ratings are in: Black Ferns beat Warriors
Data reveals audience of 576,000 compared to 115,000 for league
Despite debate about the commercial viability of women’s rugby, figures from the Eden Park test illustrate the Black Ferns have captured the public’s imagination
The Black Ferns showed not only their rugby class at Eden Park last weekend but their value as a commercial property, amassing a TV audience five times that of the Warriors, according to data obtained by the Herald.
Although there was some disappointment within New Zealand Rugby that so few of the sell-out crowd for the Eden Park double header arrived early enough to catch the start of the Black Ferns game (which kicked off at 5pm, before the All Blacks took on the Wallabies from 7.35pm) against the Wallaroos, the viewing audience, according to Nielsen figures, was an estimated 576,000, split across Sky Sport and Prime.
Nielsen is a leading independent market research company and their numbers don’t include Sky Go or Fan Pass.
Although there continues to be debate about the commercial viability of women’s rugby, figures from the Eden Park test illustrate the Black Ferns have captured the public’s imagination and they are a heavyweight brand in New Zealand.
The Women’s Rugby World Cup final last year in Belfast, which featured the Black Ferns and England, enjoyed a record audience in the UK, with more than two million people watching live.
The viewing audience for that game in New Zealand was 325,000 but it was played early in the morning due to the time difference between New Zealand and Ireland.
What has become clear, is that the popularity of the Ferns has jumped enormously since that epic clash.
Their TV audience last Saturday of 576,000 dwarfed that of the Warriors who played the Panthers the previous night.
According to the Nielsen figures, which were confirmed by a Sky spokesperson, an estimated 115,000 people watched the Warriors live — almost exactly one-fifth of the viewers amassed by the Ferns.
Mitigating circumstances caused part of that disparity — the Warriors’ 8pm encounter against the Panthers went head-to-head against the strongly-rating Ranfurly Shield clash between Taranaki and Manawatu — but the interest in the Ferns is nonetheless substantial.
By further way of comparison, this year’s Super Rugby final between the Crusaders and Lions in Christchurch, drew a live TV audience of 779,000.
The Black Ferns’ figures show why there is now significant competition in the broadcast market to buy the rights to women’s rugby. Spark recently announced they had bought the rights to show the 2021 Women’s Rugby World Cup and Sky, who have been a long-term investor in the women’s game, have also pounced to secure the rights for the remaining three Black Ferns tests this year.
“There’s no doubt women’s rugby is on the rise in New Zealand. Last year’s Rugby World Cup final for instance, rated very similarly to Silver Fern tests last year, and compare well with Super Rugby New Zealand games and Warriors ratings, which shows how much the audience has grown,” Sky director of sport Richard Last said.
“The two Black Ferns tests over the last fortnight have blown those numbers out of the water.”
Sky have also secured the rights to the one-off Black Ferns match against the United States in Chicago on November 3, as well as the twotest November tour of France.
The Black Ferns’ viewing figures show they are a heavyweight brand in New Zealand.