Exclusive: Channel 4’s Super League future revealed following controversial government plans

Rugby league has been thriving in 2022 in terms of broadcasting deals.

Not only has Premier Sports given the Championship much greater and more exciting coverage, but Channel 4 has also taken on the broadcasting mantle for Super League.

The original agreement between Channel 4 and Super League was for ten games to be broadcast on terrestrial TV, but there was apprehension about the coverage taking off at midday on a Saturday.

However, those apprehensions were firmly cast when it was revealed just how popular the hosting of Adam Hills, the punditry of Kevin Brown and Leon Pryce as well as the commentary of Mark Wilson really was.

The numbers for the first game – Warrington Wolves vs Leeds Rhinos – were spectacular with over 750,000 tuning in.

Though that dwindled a little for Hull FC’s fixture against St Helens, the numbers were at a steady rate.

The highest-minute peak was 624,000 with the average audience for the match (whistle-to-whistle) being 515,000 – which equated to a 6.8% audience share.

The match did really well with 16-34 year olds – it was the most popular programme with that age group on at that time with a 13.7% share, up +117% on slot.

The average audience for the whole programme : 468,000 which was 6.0%, up +43% on slot average thousands and up +29% for share.

Unfortunately for the broadcaster, Warrington Wolves’ home fixture against Wakefield Trinity was less well received as perhaps a combination of the good weather and two sides who some rugby league fans weren’t interested in reduced the numbers.

There was an average viewing figure of 198,000 which was 3.4% of the coverage at that time with a peak of 297,000.

Wigan Warriors and Salford Red Devils then played out a classic, but instead of a Saturday primetime TV slot, the game was broadcast on a Sunday – and that seemingly did little to help the numbers.

Channel 4 revealed that the viewing figures took on an average of 213,000 which equated to 3.2% of the TV share with the peak at 270,000.

Four games down, another followed a month later when Hull KR hosted Catalans Dragons back in the Saturday lunchtime slot.

No wonder, then, that the viewing figures increased: there was a programme average viewing of 207,000 – 4.3% of the TV share – whilst the match itself took an average of 254,000 – 5.2% of the TV share – with a minute peak at 314,000.

And, with Castleford’s debut on Channel 4, the increase in viewers rose sharply despite the fact that it was a Bank Holiday weekend in celebration of the Queen’s 70th year on the throne.

There was a peak of 390,000 with a match average of 302,000 which equated to 5.4% of the TV share at the time and a broadcast average of 268,000 or 4.8%.

However, with the UK Conservative government detailing plans for the privatisation of Channel 4, there have been some worries that this could affect Channel 4’s coverage.

When approached by Serious About Rugby League, however, a Channel 4 spokesperson said that it would have ‘no impact at all.

They went on to say: “Any potential sale can’t happen just like that – the Government has to introduce legislation etc – they indicated it won’t happen until 2024 so it isn’t going to happen next week or anything like that.

“It’s a long process so at the moment it’s business as usual for us.”

That really is music to rugby league fans’ ears considering how well the coverage has taken off on terrestrial television.

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Roland Orzabal
Roland Orzabal
8 days ago

yawn………clickbait crap