Ladies and lighties grow S15 audience

A growth in female and young viewers, along with the Kings and Cheetahs, have swelled the Super Rugby TV numbers. Tank Lanning, in his Sport24 column, asks how or if SuperSport should react?

“I have never watched less Super Rugby than I have this year” said one, while another asked me when the Stormers were playing that weekend. This on a Friday afternoon after they had already got their tour off to a heroic start against the Hurricanes that morning …

Obviously heard at the Pinelands knitting convention where I was doing some family duty time you say … Try a boys weekend at the coast where the boys were all ex club or provincial players, with three of them still involved in the game in some form!

So with anecdotal evidence and obviously shrinking crowd attendances suggesting a waning interest in the monolith that is the current guise of Super Rugby, it is fascinating to see that the TV numbers stubbornly continue to rise.

The latest figures from Repucom Africa state that the average audience per game (364 000) is 6.2% higher than in 2012. Dig a little deeper and one sees that the average audience per game during the South African  home games (746 000) is 18.2% up on the 2012 numbers!

Those are some pretty big numbers in today’s numerically frugal times … And these numbers exclude HD viewers (which are on the rise) and people at a pub or at a braai that are watching on a single TV. It’s no wonder that SuperSport holds the power it does in the professional era …

So where has the growth come from?

The addition of the Kings at the expense of the Lions has definitely had an impact, with viewership numbers in the Eastern Cape rising from 8.4% of the pie to 12.1%.

The improved performance of the Cheetahs has seen viewership in the Free State grow from 4.6% to 6.1%.

And while viewership in Gauteng has dropped from 31% to 23% given the departure of the Lions, it has been more than made up for by the jumps and PE and Bloem, but most importantly, the Western Cape, which has seen viewership numbers grow from 29% to 34%.

The Stormers continue to be the most watched team on TV with an average of 818 000 people turning on the telly when the blue and white hit the turf, but I think it is safe to say that a fair amount of that growth in the Western Cape could also be attributed to the arrival of the Kings. The line between the Eastern and Western Cape is very blurred.

But perhaps the two most amazing jumps in the viewership profile have come via the ladies and the under 14’s … Female viewership is up from 35% to over 42%, while the 4-14 year old viewership has risen from 9% to 13% … The latter at the expense of the 35-49 years olds, which explains my mates losing interest in the tournament.

We had our first ever female “Yellow Cap” winner in the Front Row Grunt SuperBru pool this week, which speaks to the increase in female viewership, but also speaks to the fact that they are not in the mix just for the sexy legs and square jaws (although I am pretty sure Dan Carter is responsible for a good few eyeballs), but for the actual rugby.

So Super Rugby has fairly different viewership profile these days, with more females, more youngsters and more people from the Eastern Cape and Bloemfontein, at the expense of the Gautengers.

So how will SuperSport react? Do they need to react? Have the new team of Derek Alberts, Nick Mallett, and John Mitchell played a part in attracting the ladies and lighties? Do they need to worry about losing the male 35 to 49 year olds, traditionally the audience with the most disposable income?

Below a few graphics showcasing the above mentioned viewership numbers from Repucom Africa:


S15 - Sex and Age

Most watched teams:

S15 - Teams

Most watched time bands:

S15 - Time of game

Viewers according to geographic area:

S15 - Geographic

Viewer loyalty according to match score difference:S15 - Score difference

One Comment

  1. Interesting numbers there Tank.

    But, how in the World are they able to tell Female:Male ratios? My IT friends find it hard enough to believe that it’s even possible to pull viewership numbers from the satellite feed…let alone be able to pull female/male or age related numbers.

    Would really love to know a bit more about how they retrieve those stats? I really hope it doesn’t include the word ‘extrapolate’ 🙂


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