Showdown set to break Fox League’s ratings records
The Wests Tigers and Cronulla blockbuster is expected to be a ratings bonanza for Fox League and could break records for the network.
The sold-out clash today is expected to draw in plenty of viewers with so much riding on the match. As luck would have it, Fox League is the big beneficiary of the NRL's decision to announce the draw well before the kick-off to the season.
Their counterparts Channel 9 - who inquired about showing the match last week - are forced to show the later game between Penrith and Newcastle while Fox League will broadcast the 2pm match exclusively.
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While it is impossible to predict how many eyeballs will tune into the match, it should challenge a host of records.
The highest-rating Fox League match was a minor premiership showdown between Melbourne and Cronulla in 2016 that drew in 499,000 people.
Cameron Smith's historic 400th match against Cronulla in round 17 is the highest-rating match of the season with 353,000 viewers.
Fox Sports head of television Steve Crawley said the sudden-death fixture was a dream outcome.
LISTEN! Matty Johns and Paul Kent are joined by Balmain champion Steve 'Blocker' Roach, talking up the big eighth place battle at Leichhardt Oval Sunday, look at some of Manly's best ever hit men and the time Kenty got completely jammed by Mark Geyer.
"Some days in sport you just know it doesn't get much better," Crawley said.
"Rugby league and a sold-out Leichhardt on a Sunday arvo in September on the last day of the competition and two sides with big followings playing off for the very last spot in the finals and you're the sole broadcaster. That's pretty cool in anyone's language."
Jarryd Hayne's NRL return with the Gold Coast in 2016 is the highest-drawing Sunday 2pm match with 302,000 viewers. The last time Robbie Farah was farewelled from Leichhardt Oval in 2016 - when the Tigers blew a finals chance - is next.
Despite being a sellout just moments after the Tigers win against St George Illawarra last Sunday, the 18,000 new capacity of Leichhardt Oval is well short of the Wests Tigers' ground record of 22,877 against South Sydney in 2005.
Fox League's highest-rating game
R26 2016 Storm v Sharks 499 000 (minor premiership showdown)
Fox League highest-rating games this year
R17 Storm v Sharks 352,000
R21 Rabbitohs v Storm 342,000
R1 Broncos v Storm 341,000
Fox League's highest-rating Sunday 2pm games
R22, 2016 Titans v Warriors 302,000 (Jarryd Hayne's comeback game)
R26, 2016 Tigers v Raiders 290,000 (Robbie Farah's farewell to Leichhardt)
R9, 2018 Dragons v Storm 270,000