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NZ Rugby Attendance And TV Ratings Are Falling Due To The NPC Format

Discontent is growing among New Zealand's provincial unions about rugby's "ridiculous" National Provincial Championship format and dwindling crowds, according to Liam Napier of the DOMINION POST. More than halfway through the compressed eight-week competition, "poor crowd attendances and compromising midweek fixtures are creating a groundswell of angst." Counties Manukau is "among the best performing teams," yet like many others, cannot get people through the gates. Their best turnout has been 3,300 on a Sunday, despite allowing kids free entry. Counties CEO Andrew Maddock said, "This ridiculous draw is packing so much in to such a tight time frame. It doesn't work for people wanting to attend." Across the board, "crowd figures paint a sad picture." Last year, the Manawatu team brought in 6,000-7,000 every match, but this year crowds have almost halved. Maddock: "People are pretty over rugby. It's nationwide. The Super Rugby expansion didn't help that. There's no much attraction for the public to go on a Tuesday or Wednesday night." The compact format was popular last year, "but the novelty has worn off." The format is tailor-made for TV audience, but a Sky spokesperson revealed broadcast figures had also dipped. The spokesperson added: "I can say that the ratings are, so far, down on last year" (DOMINION POST, 9/23).
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