Roy Morgan Research
August 04, 2018

Rugby viewership more than double Rugby League in NZ

Topic: Press Release
Finding No: 7680
RMR Logo

Almost 1.7 million New Zealanders, or 43.6% of New Zealanders aged 14+, watch Rugby on TV whether Rugby Union Internationals, the Rugby World Cup, Super Rugby, the Mitre 10 Cup or other forms of Rugby according to the latest Roy Morgan research conducted in the year to June 2018.

Viewership of Rugby Union far outstrips the other major football codes and is more than double the viewership of either Rugby League or Soccer.

A total of 837,000 New Zealanders (21.5%) watch Rugby League on TV including the NRL and other Rugby League matches and 587,000 (15.1%) watch Soccer including the FIFA World Cup, the A-League and other Soccer matches including the English Premier League and local leagues.

Rugby Union Internationals, which feature the New Zealand national team the All Blacks, are the most popular form of Rugby watched by nearly 1.34 million New Zealanders (34.3%) slightly ahead of the Rugby World Cup (RWC) watched by 1.26 million New Zealanders (32.4%).

The All Blacks are the defending Rugby World Cup champions from 2015 and will defend their title at next year’s Rugby World Cup due to be held in Japan.

Just behind the international competitions is Super Rugby watched by nearly 1.2 million New Zealanders (30.6%) while a further 880,000 New Zealanders (22.6%) watch the local Mitre 10 Cup in New Zealand.

TV Viewership of Rugby Union, Rugby League & Soccer in New Zealand – June 2018

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (New Zealand), July 2017 – June 2018, n=6,422. 

Super Rugby audience dominated by Baby Boomers and Generation X

This week’s Super Rugby final is a repeat of last year’s matchup pitting defending champions the Crusaders of New Zealand against vanquished opponents from a year ago the Lions of Johannesburg. However, on this occasion, the Crusaders enjoy home field advantage and are heavy favourites to win a record ninth Super Rugby title tomorrow at AMI Stadium in Christchurch.

As one might expect far more men than women watch Super Rugby on TV. Men comprise over 60% of the Super Rugby audience in New Zealand with nearly 740,000 watching Super Rugby compared to just over 450,000 women.

Analysing TV viewership of Super Rugby by generation shows the older you are in New Zealand the more likely you are to watch Super Rugby.

Over 40% of Pre-Boomers and Baby Boomers watch Super Rugby equating to 175,000 Pre-Boomers and over 350,000 Baby Boomers while just over a third of Generation X watch equal to almost 330,000.

Taken together this means over 70% of the Super Rugby audience in New Zealand were born before 1976 and are at least 40 years old.

Younger generations are less likely to watch Super Rugby with under a quarter of Millennials watching Super Rugby equating to 230,000 of that generation and just over 10% of Generation Z watching Super Rugby equating to around 100,000 of the youngest generation.

TV Viewership of Super Rugby by Gender & Generations – June 2018

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (New Zealand), July 2017 – June 2018, n=6,422.

Michele Levine, CEO, Roy Morgan, says the success of defending World Cup champions the All Blacks and defending Super Rugby champions the Crusaders shows New Zealand Rugby is strong but it remains vital for Rugby to engage younger generations:

Block Quote

“Rugby Union is the undoubted ‘King’ of sport in New Zealand with more New Zealanders watching Rugby in some form than any other sport. Nearly 2.5 million New Zealanders watch sport on TV and over two-thirds of these sport-watching New Zealanders watch Rugby on TV – equal to 1.7 million New Zealanders.

“Rugby’s crushes its main football ‘code’ competitors with around half this number, 840,000 odd New Zealanders watching Rugby League and under 600,000 watching various types of Soccer.

“Unsurprisingly it is the All Blacks who draw the greatest viewership in New Zealand with over 1.3 million New Zealanders watching Rugby Union Internationals and over 1.25 million watching the Rugby World Cup at which the All Blacks are favourite due to be held next year in Japan.

“Super Rugby is also popular with nearly 1.2 million watching the Southern Hemisphere’s premier provincial Rugby competition with teams from New Zealand, Australia and South Africa.

“New Zealand’s dominance of Super Rugby is well known with New Zealand teams winning 15 Super Rugby titles out of 22 contested since the competition began in 1996. However, despite this long history of success there may be cause for concern about the future.

“Analysing viewership of Super Rugby shows that the older you are – the more likely you are to watch Super Rugby. Over 40% of Pre-Boomers and Baby Boomers – those born before 1961 – watch Super Rugby and over a third of Generation X watch Super Rugby.

“However what should be of concern for Rugby Union administrators is that enthusiasm for Super Rugby drops for Millennials of whom under a quarter watch Super Rugby and only around 10% of Generation Z watch Super Rugby.

“This drop off in viewership amongst younger generations illustrates the challenges facing traditional sports in a world of increasingly diverse entertainment options.

“Roy Morgan’s in-depth qualitative and quantitative research conducted with over 6,000 New Zealanders each year allows businesses fighting for relevancy in this increasingly competitive environment to reach and target the consumers they need to stay ahead of the game.

“Combining the power of the Roy Morgan Single Source with the psychographic segmentation available via Roy Morgan Helix Personas New Zealand provides broadcasters, sponsors, advertisers and sporting administrators to understand their consumers and tailor their product to maximise engagement and revenue generation. Contact Roy Morgan now to learn more.”

For comments or more information please contact:
Roy Morgan - Enquiries
Office: +61 (03) 9224 5309

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%
1,000 ±3.0 ±2.7 ±1.9 ±1.3
5,000 ±1.4 ±1.2 ±0.8 ±0.6
7,500 ±1.1 ±1.0 ±0.7 ±0.5
10,000 ±1.0 ±0.9 ±0.6 ±0.4
20,000 ±0.7 ±0.6 ±0.4 ±0.3
50,000 ±0.4 ±0.4 ±0.3 ±0.2

Related Findings

Back to topBack To Top Arrow