Published October 9, 2012
Record attendances for the opening round of the A-League have been matched by record TV ratings and web hits as Football Federation Australia Thursday "basked in the glory of the most popular first week in the competition's history," according to Ray Gatt of THE AUSTRALIAN. A-League broadcaster Fox Sports "boasted its highest-rating" weekend of football coverage. Figures released Thursday by OzTam show that "an average of 108,000" watched Fox Sports' live coverage of the five games. The Melbourne derby between Victory and Heart topped the charts at 129,000 viewers, followed by the debut of Western Sydney against Central Coast, which attracted an audience of 123,000.
The Sydney FC-Wellington match had 109,000 viewers watching Alessandro Del Piero's A-League debut. It was "the highest-rating Phoenix home game." The TV figures come on top of a total of 93,000 that attended the games, "making it both the biggest opening round and single-round aggregate in the eight seasons of the competition." FFA CEO Ben Buckley said, "The excitement generated by new marquee players and new coaches has been converted into fans on the terraces and viewers on screens" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 10/9
). The AAP reported that departing FFA CEO Buckley "will be hoping record A-League attendance and broadcast figures translate into big bucks at the TV rights negotiations table." With one year left on the media deal, Buckley is "in the midst of negotiating a new broadcast contract before his departure next month." It is thought a new five-year deal worth more than A$40M ($40.9M) a season "will leave the game in decent shape, and a free-to-air TV deal will be crucial in the new broadcast structure" (AAP, 10/9