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Challenge Cup semi final draws huge BBC audience

BBC iPlayer's coverage of the Challenge Cup has seen a huge boost in viewers. Jon Wilkin

Viewers were treated to a feast of Rugby League on the BBC this weekend. Two highly entertaining Challenge Cup semi-finals were watched by a big audience, proving the enduring popularity of the competition.

A dominant Wigan Warriors side crushed Hull KR in Saturday’s first semi-final. Two tries each for Jake Wardle and Abbas Miski helped Wigan to a 38-6 win over the Robins.

The Cherry and Whites will be hoping to add a record-extending 21st Challenge Cup to their trophy cabinet in the Wembley showcase.

The second semi-final took place on Sunday. Sam Burgess’ resurgent Warrington Wolves side swept aside the Huddersfield Giants, live on the BBC.

Full-back, Matt Dufty, shone again, scoring two tries in a 46-10 win for the Wire.

Now, the viewing figures for Saturday’s semi-final have been released.

How many people watched the Challenge Cup semi-finals?

Saturday’s Challenge Cup semi-final between the Robins and the Warriors received excellent viewing figures.

According to Rugbyleagueontv on X, an average audience of 492,000 viewers tuned in for the game, with a peak of 540,000, that figure representing an audience share of 9.6%.

This represents an increase in audience size and share when compared with the televised cup quarter-finals.

Both quarter-finals, held in April, achieved an audience share of around 3.5%, with an average audience of under 400,000.

Big viewership proves the value of BBC coverage

Challenge Cup

Credit: Imago Images

The value of free-to-air coverage has been questioned in recent weeks, following lower-than-expected viewing figures for Super League games.

The recent Leigh Leopards versus Salford Red Devils game was shown on BBC Three. The game received an average of just 55,000 viewers, with a peak of 63,000.

This represented an audience share of just 0.3%. The low audience has led to questions around how the BBC are marketing Super League fixtures, and whether the game is gaining enough visibility from the broadcaster.

However, the large cup audience proves two things. The first is that the Challenge Cup remains an attractive option for a wider audience.

Secondly, that having games on the BBC, when marketed well, can help the sport gain a new following.

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