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Mark Twain once said, “The reports of my death appear to be much exaggerated”, and while the critics and doom mongers again heralded the demise of our great game in 2024 it appears from the opening week of Super League that their fears have so far been somewhat misplaced.

Without doubt the Super League XXIX was always going to be a 'little different' with SKY committing to cover all of the matches with some games being broadcast simultaneously, while Super League had its own new streaming service and some games would be shown live to a national audience free to air on the BBC.

It was easy for the pessimists to argue that media saturation would be the end of the game and rather than appealing to a new audience it would simply allow those already interested in rugby league to turn into couch potatoes and feast on their sport of choice from the safety of their own armchair.

But stunning attendance figures for the opening round of fixtures which saw 76,752 attend the six opening fixtures with an average of 12,972 at each match. The figure was bolstered by a very well attended Hull derby, but when you take into account that Wigan and Warrington were both away for their opening game, and St Helens had London Broncos as visitors, then it is no mean feat for the clubs to have commanded such interest.

The exposure of a limited number of games of Super League on the BBC must also be a big lift to the game. Saturday evenings game between Castleford and Wigan was watched by an average audience of 357,000 on the BBC while it was also broadcast live on SKY TV and available delayed on the Super League + app. This figure was up on several of the games shown live on Channel 4 last season.

In addition, rugby league was featured on main news bulletins across the BBC, a notable change to previous seasons when the BBC had little interest in reporting anything other than Challenge Cup.

We do, of course, need to maintain and even build on this momentum. The attendance figures were great but we need to keep that going for another twenty-six rounds and we do that through spectacle on the field. There were some good games this weekend, but with early season fare on show it is difficult to argue that there were any ‘great’ games. The quality will improve over coming weeks and hopefully we will be able to retain the viewers interest both in the stadia and on the broadcast media.

But one week in, so far, so good.



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Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Mon 19th Feb 2024 2:55 PM | Views : 7162 | Replies : 18 | BACK TO STORIES