The Australian Football League (AFL) has retained its strong network engagement with 4.4 million users tuning in to AFL Media in March and an average of more than 1 million per week across the network.

In addition, the AFL is officially the most engaged Australian sports league on social media1, with over 2.1 million reactions shared on the platform last week, and 4.7million video views - despite the absence of live matches.

While the official AFL Toyota Premiership Season remains on hold due to COVID-19 restrictions, overall traffic is up on average 53% vs. the 2019 off-season period. Head of AFL Media Network, Sarah Wyse said the impressive engagement numbers came down to the diversified offering and ability to remain agile in the approach to market.

“The AFL Media network has evolved from a traditional football news publisher to a next-generation media business.

We deliver tailored platform offerings; diversified, audience-led content, strategic brand integration and optimised content delivered for our partners.

AFL Media: New shows, new ground, breaking news, direct from the source

“Our primary focus is to build an emotional connection with fans – our content is powerful and drives the game forward in this unprecedented time. The network’s ability to retain fan engagement has come down to the ‘always on’ approach.

“We’ll continue to serve the biggest names and exclusives in football, but we’ll do that while we deliver meaningful content to keep fans entertained, informed and connected,” she said.

Scheduled viewing led by some of the AFL’s biggest names have proven to be a hit, with Yokayi Footy, The Coach with Ross Lyon, What Really Happened with Kane Cornes and Damian Barrett’s live show Ask Damo continuing to draw fans in week by week, fuelled by a rich diversity of content and themes. 

The AFL has also recently announced the Toyota AFL Fixture Throwback, a series of archived matches streamed across the AFL Live App and AFL.com.au for Australian and New Zealand audiences, and Watch AFL for international users.

It’s also launched the NAB AFL Auskick at Home series, taking the traditional NAB AFL Auskick Clinic into the virtual world to ensure kids can continue their weekly footy rituals while in lockdown, as well as the new AFL Gamers Network in partnership with YouTube.

Reimagining traditional AFL experiences and expanding into new shows, content themes and platforms has been an advantage to the new way of working while footy is on hold, said Wyse.

“We’re embracing the new normal as an industry, working hard to innovate our offering and to bring new experiences to life during the shutdown period. Flexible working is something we pride ourselves on at the AFL, but the current COVID-19 situation has pushed us into flexible working arrangements we never thought possible.

“We are running one of the largest digital sports networks remotely, leveraging AI technology to create video content at scale, enabling us to supercharge our on-demand video offering to satisfy our fans appetite.

“Football has a special place in so many Aussie households, and while almost every sport around the world is on hold due to COVID-19, we will continue to strive to deliver the most entertaining and relevant content we can until we return to play,” Wyse concluded.