The NRL has declared Sunday’s grand final between South Sydney and Canterbury the most-watched club game in the code’s history.
The Rabbitohs’ 30-6 win was the highest rating NRL match of all time across five city markets, with the Nine Network reporting a national peak audience of 4.6 million.
That figure surpassed the national audience for the AFL Grand Final between the Sydney Swans and Hawthorn, which was clocked at just over 3.5 million.
Rugby league now has the top three TV programs of the year across a national audience in State of Origin games one and two as well as the Grand Final.
A record crowd of 83,833 attended the game between the Sydney rivals, the biggest for a sporting event since the stadium was re-configured in 2001 after the Olympic Games.
NRL chief Dave Smith said the figures demonstrated the strength of rugby league in Australia.
“This has been a big season for the NRL and last night’s match had everything – sheer determination and courage from our amazing athletes mixed with the tradition and history of two strong clubs,” Smith said.
“The atmosphere was incredible and, matched by a big crowd, it was a wonderful finale to a massive season.
“About 16 million people across the country watched rugby league over the finals series, which demonstrates the game is in a strong and healthy shape.”