What has happened?
The 2019 AFL season came to a close in the ultimate David vs Goliath, seeing the GWS Giants fall apart in their first ever Grand Final against an untameable Tigers line up. Initial TV audience numbers show the impact of what is being labelled one of the “worst Grand Final results” in history, seeing a 15% drop from 2018 with 2.19M Metro viewers tuned in to the 2019 live game and a combined 6.15m national viewers tuned in across the entire day’s proceedings. The silver lining however, was increased viewership in traditionally non-AFL states. Metro viewership of the 2019 live game was up 7% in Sydney and an astounding 28% up in Brisbane; likely ignited off the back of a successful season for the Lions, despite a redundant finals campaign.
The Media Store Take
Down year-on-year yes but the AFL GF still shows that sport is one of the few genres that can generate true scale. And what ratings don’t capture is the totality of true fan engagement; at-ground attendance, viewing in public spaces and those connecting via social media.
This isn’t the first, and won’t be the last time, we see a blow-out result like this. But the unpredictability of live sport can also be the spark of incredible storytelling. 2019’s Grand Final did not disappoint on that front, with tales such as Marlion Pickett making his AFL debut, kicking a goal & taking home a Premiership Medal in the process. For brands, it is crucial to treat sporting partnerships as a marathon rather than a sprint. TV ratings show scale but aren’t the whole story. Real impact is made with sport in engaging the fan base & storytelling.