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AFL fans to advocate for return to day grand final, despite bumper TV ratings

Cheryl Critchley, president of the AFLFA, said she would send the poll results to McLachlan with a number of questions the fans wanted answers to as part of the association’s annual post-season correspondence with the league.

“Up until last year, the breakdown was about 65-70 per cent day, 15 per cent twilight, and about 10 per cent night,” she said.

“It’s actually got even stronger towards the day after having the two night grand finals. The entertainment has been really fantastic and people have enjoyed that side of it, but when you consider the whole package, most prefer the day game because all that’s associated with that.

“I think people like the tradition of it and the ritual of it. Some people argue it takes away from [the game] having to wait all day, whereas when it’s in the middle of the day, you’ve got before the game and after, almost in equal proportions.”

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Also part of the criticism was the argument there was little to watch during the day, despite Victorian racing taking advantage of the late start in hosting the Underwood Stakes on Saturday, rather than on Sunday, and the NRL shifting Melbourne Storm’s preliminary final with the Penrith Panthers to a 4pm AEST slot.

But Lewis Martin, managing director of Seven Melbourne and head of network sport, said the event delivered in spades from a television perspective.

“The historic 2021 AFL grand final lived up to the hype and delivered extraordinary audiences on Seven,” Martin said.

“The AFL is a vital part of Seven’s unrivalled sporting content and once again Australia’s No.1 winter sport has gripped the nation with another unmissable premiership decider.”

By comparison, the Tokyo Olympic Games opening ceremony attracted a peak audience of 3.81 million viewers, and last year’s grand final was watched by 3.812 million viewers nationally.

In 2016, 4.121 million viewers watched the Dogs’ historic premiership win over the Swans.

Incredibly, 900,000 regional viewers watched Saturday night’s grand final, smashing all three State of Origin matches televised this year, where regional NSW and Queensland have a large number of rugby league followers.

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