Thursday night NRL games here to stay
THE NRL says it will press on with Thursday night football next year despite statistics that show resistance to the timeslot to an extent that 12 matches played in Sydney averaged just 9796 spectators a match.
Four matches in Brisbane on Thursday nights, one in Melbourne and one in Townsville totalled 144,826 of the 262,383 spectators who watched the 18 Thursday night games live.
Those six matches outside NSW were the only six occasions when more than 15,000 went to watch a game on a made-for TV Thursday night.
Brisbane's four Thursday night home games - against the Roosters, Panthers, Bulldogs and Eels - were the four-biggest crowds in the timeslot at an average of 26,291.
At the end of the home and away rounds, crowds in all timeslots were down 2.8 per cent and for the first time since 2004 failed to average 15,000 a game.
NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg last month said the Thursday night timeslot would again be a strong feature of next year's draw.
He said Thursday night television ratings were "much higher'' than for the Monday night timeslot discarded after 2016.
Greenberg also said that the Friday 6pm game was a "great opportunity for young fans to see the game'' and that venue choice needed to made better.
But the same resistance Sydneysiders have to travelling to early Friday matches at ANZ Stadium is there in Thursday night offerings.
Canterbury (three times) and South Sydney (once) did not draw even 9000 to Thursday night fixtures at ANZ Stadium, but suburban venues did not work for the NRL in that timeslot.
Cronulla had three in the timeslot, including the season-opener as premiers against Brisbane, and got along to the games just 27,962 in total.