AFL Grand Final 2022: Channel 7 ratings bomb, Geelong vs Sydney score

The 2022 AFL grand final was a ratings bomb for free-to-air broadcaster Channel 7, prompting calls for the marquee fixtures to permanently become a twilight fixture.

Saturday afternoon’s decider between the Geelong Cats and Sydney Swans received metro 2.18 million viewers in capital cities and 2.96 million viewers nationally, with 95,000 viewers on streaming platforms.

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In comparison, the 2019 AFL grand final between the Richmond Tigers and GWS Giants, which also took place during the traditional afternoon timeslot, had 2.197 million metro viewers tuning in with 2.90 million nationally.

These numbers are considering lower than the 2020 and 2021 grand finals, which took place during prime time on the east coast.

Last year’s decider between the Melbourne Demons and Western Bulldogs in Perth pulled in 3.006 metro million viewers, while the 2020 season finale between Richmond and Geelong in Brisbane raked in 2.979 million.

“We will always support the decisions the AFL makes for the fans,” James Warburton, Seven West Media Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, said in a statement.

“The numbers and comparisons are clear for all to see to support a primetime AFL Grand Final. It‘s a national game and a twilight or primetime bounce will maximise the audience for the code.”

Lewis Martin, Managing Director Seven Melbourne and Head of Network Sport, said in a statement: “Seven‘s live, free and exclusive coverage of the unmissable premiership decider captivated the nation and demonstrated once again why the AFL is Australia‘s No. 1 winter sport.

“Seven‘s AFL coverage, underpinned by our expert commentary and insights, showcases the passion, entertainment and exceptional competition of the AFL and why the unique spectacle brings our nation together like no other sport.

“It is a vital part of Seven‘s unbeatable sporting content and we are delighted to work with the AFL, the players, clubs and fans for many years to come as we take the AFL‘s free-to-air coverage into a new era.”

The NRL preliminary final between the Penrith Panthers and South Sydney Rabbitohs registered 414,000 viewers in Sydney compared to the 375,000 for the AFL decider. 

Meanwhile, footy fans hoping to watch the greatest event on the AFL calendar on streaming service 7 Plus were instead welcomed to coverage of Australian Border Force between 2pm and 5pm, as the grand final was being broadcast on Channel 7 on free-to-air television.

Enraged viewers took to Twitter to vent their frustrations with the 7 Plus app as their pre-game stream ended under an hour before the first bounce.

Channel 7 confirmed it only holds rights to stream the Grand Final on connected televisions, although some fans claimed to have been able to watch the game for a short period on the 7 Plus app and website, suggesting the network had backflipped.

“Users in Australia will be able to stream the AFL Grand Final on their phone or other mobile devices through the AFL Live Official app,” said a Seven spokesperson.

But those able to view the game on television were also left disappointed with the coverage, with some saying it was “appalling”, “unwatchable” and “awful” particularly in standard definition, with others criticising the lack of footage of singer Katie Noonan who performed the Australian National Anthem.

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