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Monday, April 20, 2009

Bums on Seats 

Quite literally that's what everybody was expecting to see at sports stadiums around Australasia and the rest of the world this year. Bums as in hobos. What with all the economic doom and gloom. Predictions were that crowd numbers would be rubbish at professional sports events but it certainly doesn't look that way. I guess for starters fuck all people have lost their job and secondly everybody else is either being paid the same as last year or more. Secondly people will sacrifice other things ahead of their weekly pleasures, ie their favourite sporting team, booze and a couple of dvds will remain while trips to the movies, pricey cars, and swanky restaurants are all out the door.

But a preliminary analysis suggests that there are still plenty of people wanting to go along and watch the footie provided the quality is up there.

In the NRl so far this year there have been 47 matches played. 828,830 spectators have attended and the average is 17,634. Last years average was 15,591 while the highest ever season average was set in 2005 with an average of 16,468. This years average will inevitably slide as winter sets in as well as a bit of fatigue with the novelty wearing off and also some sides will begin that slide down the ladder and a few will give up on them. But from my experience of following the crowd stats I would say that they are a good shot of breaking the alltime season record.

The Warriors have also seen a major turnaround in support. Last year they averaged 11,444 which was the second worst in the comp behind Penrith. This year they are averaging 20,083 after 4 home games which puts them second best behind the Broncos. Not bad for a side who are 3-3 for the season.

Turn your attention to the Super 14 and things are a bit more confusing.

Crowd figures are notoriously difficult to get ahold of in NZ and South Africa. The Aussies will happily publish them and are fascinated by them it seems as rugby, rugby league, afl and soccer all have a look see at who is getting folks to show up. It's a real competition in itself amongst fans of the various sports to see the attendances and tv ratings.

The NZRU is one of the only sporting organisations in the world that does not routinely release its crowd figures. There is a sports websites that publishes such figures for all professional sports comps around the world but the NZ rugby ones were missing so I emailed to ask why. The guy running it replied that he had tried to get the figures from them but they were arseholes about it and refused to supply them.

Me thinks they have something to hide.

Anyway, if you trawl hard enough you can often find them buried in writeups for games where journalists have managed to find out the figure or the commentators during the match have given a ball park figure which they have officially heard.

So from what I can gather thus far this year the NZ average crowd in the Super 14 is about 13,042. In Australia it is 19,791 (100% accurate) and in South Africa the figures are somewhat unreliable but for the 15 matches that are known its around 30,633. A rather massive difference from one country to the next. In general the South Africans get huge crowds for matches between their own teams and pretty pisspoor ones for watching their sides play the NZers or Aussies. yet another reason why they should separate from the Super 14. Nobody gets up to watch those matches from either country when they are on the other side of the earth. The TV ratings for a recent match played in the Republic in Australia were something like 1,900. I shit you not. That is One thousand and nine hundred people who watched a recent match between an Aussie side and a South African side on cable TV in Aussie.

Anyhow, that's how I passed the hour I had to kill before the Man U v Everton semi I'm about to watch... until I fall asleep.

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I've fallen asleep before the end of two Canucks playoff games in the last 4 nights, so I know what you mean. Doesn't help when you have a 9-month old who likes to get up at 5.50am.
The Warriors would have the most fluctuating crowd numbers in the NRL, right?
An educated guess would say yes.

here they are over their history

the averages tend to level things out obviously but their form has always been a major driver in numbers. Wehn they have been at rock bottom they have had crowds of 4 and 5,000 and when going well they usually attract 13-15,000. The numbers they are getting at the moment are surprisingly high but probably from their good run late last year plus the WC win spreading good vibes about the game in NZ and also rugby starting too early and a general apathy towards that game and lots og glowing press for league (well the onfield stuff anyway).
The weather probably has a bit to do with the fluctuation, too. Howling wind and pouring cold rain disrupt more than the odd game in July and August. Not something the teams from Sydney north have to put up with too much, possibly?
Even the provincial unions think the NZRU is lying about Supa XIVVVVMCCI attendance:

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