Currently drawing towards the close of its eleventh season, the A-League is now watched on TV by more Australians 14+ than the English Premier League, with its audience growing by more than 50% since 2011.
In 2015, 2.1 million Aussies (or 11.0% of the population) reported watching A-League football (soccer) on TV either regularly or occasionally, up from 1.4 million viewers (7.6%) in 2011. Of course, as anyone with even a passing interest in the subject would know, the A-League’s broadcasting arrangements changed as of the 2013-14 season, when free-to-air network SBS joined Pay TV channel Fox Sports in televising matches (previously Fox had exclusive broadcast rights).
The growth in the A-League’s TV audience can be seen across both genders, with increased proportions of men and women tuning in: 16.0% of men and 6.2% of women watched it in 2015 (up from 11.3% and 4.0% respectively).
Over the same period, viewership of the English Premier League remained relatively unchanged, with its audience hovering around the 1.8 million viewer/9.5% mark since 2011.
A-League and EPL viewers by gender, 2011 vs 2015
Young men aged under 25 are the most avid viewers, with 19.6% of them watching A-League matches on TV either occasionally or almost always (up from 13.3% in 2011), but there has been a consistent upturn among men of all ages. Women, too, are more likely than ever to watch the A-League on TV, with increases across all age groups.
Shaun Ellis, Industry Spokesperson, Roy Morgan Research, says:
“The A-League has come a long way since its debut season in 2005, not least in terms of TV viewers. While its first eight seasons were broadcast exclusively on Pay TV channel Fox Sports, and therefore only available to Australians with a subscription (or access to somebody else’s subscription), it became more widely viewable from the 2013-14 season when free-to-air network SBS secured shared broadcast rights. Certainly, being able to watch A-League matches without a Pay TV subscription would be a determining factor in the increased proportion of men and women of all ages tuning in.
“Not only is this good news for the A-League and Football Federation Australia, it would also be music to the ears of the A-League’s official partner, Hyundai. In fact, almost 40% of Aussies who watch A-League matches on TV associate the league with Hyundai: a higher level of sponsorship awareness than that of AFL viewers for their league’s Premier Partner, Toyota.
“Meanwhile, the English Premier League’s TV audience has remained fairly steady since 2011. Historically broadcast exclusively on Fox Sports, the EPL’s audience numbers will be worth monitoring once Optus takes over broadcast rights as of the coming season (with SBS just announced as a sub-licensee for exclusive free-to-air coverage of one match per round), to see how significantly this impacts on the number of Aussies watching the EPL.