NRL grand final television ratings lowest in 16 years

Australia's long standing love affair with rugby league and the NRL appears to be on the wane, with Sunday night's grand final between the Sydney Roosters and the Canberra Raiders bringing in the lowest number of viewers for 16 years.

As the Roosters controversially claimed the 2019 premiership, viewer numbers across the five "metro city" audiences were among the lowest on record - a total of just over 2.6 million.

In contrast, last year's decider between the Roosters and the Melbourne Storm drew in an estimated 3.03 million viewers.

The decline is a worrying sign for rugby league and the NRL overall, with the current free-to-air broadcast deal with Australia's Channel Nine to come to an end in 2022, currently worth nearly NZ$2 billion. That deal was struck in 2015.

The drop in viewers also sees the third year in a row that viewer numbers have declined for a grand final, with Australian site TVBlackbox claiming that viewership has declined every year since the 2016 grand Final. 

The Rabbitohs' 2014 premiership victory over the Bulldogs remains the highest rating grand final on record, drawing 3.9 million viewers.