Rat­ings are in: Black Ferns beat War­riors

Data re­veals au­di­ence of 576,000 com­pared to 115,000 for league

The New Zealand Herald - - Front Page - Gre­gor Paul

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.

Photo / Photosport

The Black Ferns’ view­ing fig­ures show they are a heavy­weight brand in New Zealand.

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