Connect with us

Challenge Cup

RFL reveal why Challenge Cup Semi-Final clashed with Premier League final day

Warrington Wolves Challenge Cup

An excellent weekend of Challenge Cup action saw Wigan Warriors and Warrington Wolves book a date at Wembley in front of the BBC cameras.

Viewers on the BBC channels got to witness fantastic rugby from Wigan and Warrington, with the two sides scoring 84 points between them in a display of attacking prowess.

Indeed, plenty of fans got to witness it, as despite disappointing attendances in both Doncaster and St Helens, the viewing figures were promising.

Hull KR v Wigan Warriors had an average viewership of 492,000 on BBC One, higher than events such as the World Club Challenge, which averaged 350,000 on BBC Two.

However, the next day saw a noticeable decline, as Huddersfield Giants v Warrington Wolves saw an average of just 260,000, almost as low as half of the previous day.

Some of this could be put down to the fact that it was on BBC Two rather than BBC One, but as many have noted, there was another factor at play that day.

On Sunday, it was also the final day of the Premier League, where all 20 teams played at the same time.

Those games kicked off at 4pm, which was during half-time of the Challenge Cup game.

It was a decision that baffled many, particularly given that it would have made sense for the Saturday (1.45 pm) and Sunday (3.15 pm)kick-off times to be reversed, but the RFL have confirmed to Serious About Rugby League that it was the BBC that decided on the scheduling of the Challenge Cup fixtures.

Are the BBC doing enough for Super League and the Challenge Cup?

Warrington Wolves head coach Sam Burgess speaks to media at St Helens

Credit: Imago Images

This scheduling decision seems like a major shot in the foot from the BBC, as it surely meant fewer people watched their channel at that time.

It seems somewhat obvious that there is a lack of care for rugby league, despite securing a new deal to show it this year.

Their decision not to show any Challenge Cup games on TV channels, and only show a huge clash between Leeds Rhinos and St Helens on iPlayer, in the early rounds was disappointing, as was only showing two quarter-finals and deciding on BBC Three for much of their coverage this year.

Quiz: Name the Challenge Cup runners-up from every year since 1996

1 of 28
Leigh Leopards celebrate at Wembley


Particularly disappointing was the 55,000 figure that watched Leigh Leopards v Salford Red Devils on BBC Three, with just 0.5% audience share, almost 20 times lower than the share of the semi-final on BBC One.

This is the first time the BBC have ever shown Super League in its current guise, and it should have been a huge opportunity for the broadcaster to make rugby league one of their flagship sports, marketing it heavily and, alongside IMG, making this side of the game better than ever before.

However, this hasn’t been the case. Consistently relegating our game to BBC Three isn’t good enough, and it isn’t marketed well at all.

More games on BBC One are crucial to keeping interest alive.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Must See

More in Challenge Cup