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Ratings through the roof: NRL draws 4.5 million TV audience

Almost 4.5 million Australians tuned in to the Telstra Premiership's return to our screens across round three, making for the fifth-largest TV audience in a regular-season weekend in NRL history.

By Saturday night combined ratings across broadcasters Fox Sports and Channel Nine had already surpassed last year's corresponding round-three games.

And by the end of the round, a total of 4,490,336 viewers were recorded across eight games, the largest audience in which three games have been broadcast on free-to-air since the record set in round one of 2013.

In a further boost to the 2020 figures, larger audiences in round eight, 2014, and round 26, 2017, drew upon four free-to-air games thanks to Anzac Day clashes and a Saturday night simulcast on Channel Nine.

With rugby league resuming in round three, Fox Sports attracted approximately 2,276,000 sets of eyeballs as it broadcast the entire week's action.

Channel Nine's three free-to-air matches drew a combined audience of 2,214,336.

Every try from round 3

The code's May 28 return as one of the world's few sporting codes providing live content made for a series of landmark audience figures, including:

  • Fox Sports' second largest cumulative audience for a regular season round with 2,276,000 viewers;
  • Fox Sports' largest ever regional viewership for a regular season round;
  • Channel Nine (20%) and Fox Sports (19.1%) enjoying significant audience increases on last year's round-three ratings;
  • Thursday's Brisbane-Parramatta clash attracting a combined 1.3 million viewers – the largest single game audience outside of finals and Origin since 2014;
  • Melbourne's Saturday night clash with Canberra ranking as their second highest TV audience (behind only Cameron Smith's 400th game last season).

The round-three ratings do not take in what is believed to have been a healthy New Zealand audience for the Warriors-Dragons clash.

In acknowledgement of the Warriors' sacrifice in moving across the Tasman indefinitely, broadcaster Sky Sports offered its streaming service for free to all New Zealanders for 24 hours on Saturday.

Thursday's Broncos-Eels game remarkably also set viewership records in New Zealand despite not kicking off until around 10pm in the Kiwi time zone.

The broadcast figures do not take in streaming audiences across Kayo or Telstra Live Pass on the official NRL app.

Rugby league's return to the field also had live games carried by Sky Sports in the UK and Fox Sports 1 in the US.

According to a Forbes article posted on Sunday morning, a soft signal from US network Fox was that round three's fixtures were also tracking for a record in overseas viewers.

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