THE OPENING match of the 2020 Toyota AFL Finals Series, Port Adelaide v Geelong, attracted a total average TV audience of 1.49 million.
The audience was up 23 per cent compared to last year's Thursday night week 1 final (West Coast Eagles v Essendon), and out-rated all week 1 and 2 finals from 2019.
The national free-to-air (FTA) Metro audience was up 34 per cent compared to last year's Thursday night week 1 final.
The Queensland and NSW audience numbers had huge growth – the Brisbane FTA audience was double (112 per cent up) and the Sydney FTA Audience was triple (259 per cent up) last year's Thursday night week 1 final.
Adelaide's FTA audience was up 129 per cent compared to last year's Thursday night week 1 final, while Melbourne's FTA audience was up 45per cent.
Foxtel had an average audience of 303,000 on Fox Footy and a total average of 429,000 viewers across Foxtel & Foxtel Now/Foxtel GO/Kayo. This was up 41per cent on the 304,000 who watched the 2019 Thursday night final.
These huge viewing numbers come off the back of more than 77 million viewers tuning in to the 2020 Toyota AFL Premiership Season.
In an unprecedented year for football, the support and interest from fans in the broadcast of AFL games continues to be extremely strong.
At the conclusion of the home-and-away season, national television audiences were 14 per cent higher for average audience per game compared to the same time periods last year, confirming the high demand for football in 2020.
The hosting of matches in Queensland, combined with the success of the Brisbane Lions, has reflected a 32 per cent increase in Brisbane audiences. AFL has provided the entertainment to all Victorians during a challenging year with audiences up 13 per cent on average and up 15 per cent in Melbourne.
AFL Chief Executive, Gillon McLachlan, expressed his thanks to football fans across the country, and thanked broadcast partners - the Seven Network, Foxtel and Telstra.
"I want to acknowledge the dedication of our football community to supporting the 2020 Toyota AFL Premiership Season," Mr McLachlan said.
"Footy has been the constant in Australian lives during a difficult period for the community and fans and supporters have rallied behind their clubs and heroes in a different way in 2020. Through our television screens we have celebrated and applauded the players who have provided us with the entertainment we have craved."
"We have been blown away by the loyalty and commitment footy fans around the country have demonstrated this season. To have one in six Australians tune in to an AFL match every weekend highlights the strength of the game."
"On behalf of the AFL, I want to say thank you to every single person who has supported their club and the broader game this year."
"The game has been covered differently this year and I want to thank our long-term broadcast partners, the Seven Network, Foxtel and Telstra, for their ongoing support and commitment to bringing the fans closer to the game giving them a sense of connection and comfort."