Off the Wall

I thought Saturday night's 100 minute encounter between the Roosters and the Tigers was as good a match as I have seen in a long while - and fortunately television viewers thought so as well.

The match attracted 475,000 viewers for Nine in Sydney - making it the third highest rating programme of the week. On Friday night the Titans v Warriors game (not featuring a Sydney team) was the fifth highest rating programme.

But the really good news came when you compare the NRL figures with those of the AFL and the Wallabies test - also shown live on free to air television in Sydney on Saturday night.

On Seven the Wallabies drew just 152,000 viewers - though it did better on pay, which inexcusably gets punted for the NRL finals. The Wallabies v All Blacks match (supposedly the showcase matches of the year) rated 97 on the "most watched programme" list.

But it gets even better. The Swans AFL final against the Western Bulldogs  attracted just 129,000 viewers on Ten.

Rugby league fans sure got their money's worth - an 80 minute game that lasted a few seconds short of 100 minutes...followed by a tight encounter between the Panthers and the Raiders, who continue to impress.

The bookmakers now have the Dragons the shortest price favourites in years for the premiership...

It is a much more open contest than that. The Titans, Raiders and even the Roosters are deserving of real consideration.

What the television ratings show is that the game is in good shape in that compartment.

And even better when compared with the AFL in Sydney.

And the ARU is going to struggle to get much for the rights for a Wallabies team that may be improving, but is continuing to lose!

The poor television audience for the Swans match in Sydney must alarm the AFL which is spending millions on its western Sydney team.

If the best the AFL can get for its established Sydney team in a finals match is about a quarter of the viewing audience the NRL gets, and less than what even the ARU can draw, then like the man pushing the barrow uphill, it has the job in front of it.

On the basis of the 2010 season television numbers - free and pay - if the NRL cannot get a deal that is close to what the AFL gets the David Gallop should hand in his ticket!