The Stormers may be the best-performing South African team in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship, but the Sharks lead in the popularity stakes.
According to a URC news release, the competition attracts more than one-million viewers each week and, by round 12, had reached 13.3m viewers to beat the tournament’s previous record of 12.9m for a season dating back to the 2020-21 PRO14/Rainbow Cup product.
“Munster are the most-watched team in the URC so far with Leinster, Sharks, Connacht and Stormers all following closely,” the statement read, citing the latest consolidated TV report to identify the top-five teams for the most cumulative audience.
“The combined audience of over 1.7 million in Round 2 remains the highest round total for the season so far which smashed the previous record of 853 000 from 2017-18.”
On Saturday, the Sharks hosted the largest in-stadium crowd of the competition thus far when more than 20,000 spectators watched Sean Everitt’s men beat Leinster at Kings Park.
The viewership data supplied by Nielsen predicted the weekly audience to strengthen during the run-in to the playoffs and the end of the season, with two rounds of matches remaining in the group stages.
“These broadcast audiences provide a terrific pulse check for the United Rugby Championship,” said URC CEO Martin Anayi.
“Ultimately, the excitement on the pitch coupled to the intrigue of the big four South African teams joining the league has provided a great draw, but it’s been a real collaborative effort from our broadcast partners and the league to maximise that interest.”