The latest data from Roy Morgan shows the total NRL supporter base has grown marginally from a year ago, up 0.5% to nearly 6.4 million Australians aged 14+ (30.1%) in 2022 as the code emerged from two heavily COVID-interrupted seasons in 2020-21.
The NRL was forced to relocate all 16 clubs to Queensland last season after large outbreaks of COVID-19 in the key market of New South Wales as well as the secondary markets of Victoria and the ACT. In addition, the border to New Zealand remained closed throughout last season with the NZ Warriors able to play their first home game in their own country since 2019 only less than three weeks ago.
The good news for the NRL is that despite the upheavals of the last two years, support for the clubs has strengthened with 10 of the 16 clubs experiencing an increase in support from 2021.
The Melbourne Storm have again topped the ladder as the most widely supported NRL club in 2022 with 1,199,000 supporters, an increase of 1.7% on a year ago following the club’s fifth official ‘Minor Premiership’ in 2021 though the club failed to successfully defend its 2020 Premiership victory.
In second is the Brisbane Broncos, the only other club with over 1 million supporters on 1,025,000, a small increase of 0.7% on a year ago as the club chase their first finals victory for five years since 2017.
The most widely supported Sydney-based club is again the Parramatta Eels with 460,000 supporters, an increase of 0.4% on a year ago. The Eels have the longest drought of any NRL club with the team not winning a Premiership for nearly forty years since 1986.
The reigning NRL Premiers the Penrith Panthers have experienced the biggest increase in support over the past year increasing by 86,000 (+38.9%) to 307,000 following their 2021 Premiership victory.
NRL Club Supporter Ladder 2022
Source: Roy Morgan Single Source Australia, April 2020-March 2021, n=66,050 & April 2021-March 2022, n=65,365. Base: Australians 14+. *New Zealand Warriors support only includes Australian-based supporters.
There were three other 2021 finalists to increase their support over the last year led by the South Sydney Rabbitohs, up 8.4% to 440,000 and in fourth place overall as well as the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles, up 12.5% to 298,000 and the Gold Coast Titans, up marginally by 0.2% to 131,000.
Other clubs to increase their support include the Wests Tigers, up 0.3% to 337,000, the Cronulla Sharks, up 15.4% to 210,000 and the New Zealand Warriors, up 7.9% to 164,000 despite not playing any home games in New Zealand throughout either the 2020 or 2021 NRL seasons.
In addition to growth in support for a majority of clubs the NRL consistently rates as one of Australia’s favourite ‘TV products’. Over 6 million (28.4%) Australians now watch the NRL on TV, up 1.1% on a year ago when many viewers were in forced lockdown in the code’s largest market in New South Wales.
Overall, ten NRL clubs increased their support in the year to March 2022 including six clubs based in the NRL heartland of suburban Sydney. Detailed in-depth profiles of NRL Supporters, Australians who watch NRL on TV, Australians who play Rugby League and profiles of supporters of all 16 NRL clubs are available on the Roy Morgan Online Store for those keen to learn more about the sport.
These key findings are derived from detailed in-depth interview with over 60,000 Australians each year as part of the Roy Morgan Single Source survey.
Julian McCrann, Industry Communications Director, Roy Morgan, says the Melbourne Storm has topped the annual Roy Morgan NRL Club Support Ladder for the second straight year in 2022 with 1.2 million supporters – up 1.7% on a year ago:
“The long-term success for the Melbourne Storm is paying off with support for the club exceeding closest rivals the Brisbane Broncos for the second straight year. The Storm have been the most successful NRL club of the last two decades making the NRL Finals for 11 years straight (2011-21), winning three Premierships in the last decade in 2012, 2017 and 2020, and featuring in 9/16 Grand Finals and winning five of them (although two were later stripped due to salary cap violations).
“Both the Melbourne Storm with 1.2 million supporters (+1.7% on a year ago) and the Brisbane Broncos with 1.03 million supporters (+0.7%) are amongst the ten NRL clubs to increase their support from a year ago. The Broncos have been atop the NRL club supporter ladder for most of the past two decades however a new club, the Dolphins based in the northern Brisbane bayside suburb of Redcliffe, are joining the NRL next season and are likely to divide their supporter base.
“The most widely supported NRL club in Sydney is again the Parramatta Eels with 460,000 supporters, up 0.4% on a year ago and the 2021 runner-up the South Sydney Rabbitohs with 440,000 supporters (up 8.4% on a year ago). Despite their lack of Premiership success since winning in 1986 the Eels are set to play finals for the fourth straight year in 2022.
“The biggest increase in support was for 2021 Premiership winners the Penrith Panthers – the first Premiership for the Panthers since 2003. Support for the ‘Mountain Men’ from Western Sydney increased by a large 86,000 (+38.9%) to 307,000 following back-to-back Grand Finals for the club for the first time in thirty years.
“The overall numbers are also impressive for the NRL with nearly 6.4 million Australians now supporting an NRL club, up 0.5% on a year ago, and up almost as many, 6 million, now watching the NRL on TV – up 1.1% on a year ago.
“Contact Roy Morgan to learn more about what types of supporters each of the 16 NRL clubs are attracting both in the stands and on TV as well as what sets these fans apart from their peers in wider society by drawing on the qualitative and quantitative data gathered by in-depth personal interviews conducted with over 60,000 Australians each year.”
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Margin of Error
The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.
|Sample Size||Percentage Estimate|
|40% – 60%||25% or 75%||10% or 90%||5% or 95%|