ITV brought the competition back to free-to-air earlier this year
The Premiership Rugby Final between Leicester Tigers and Saracens was the most watched Premiership Rubgy match ever.
The match, which Leicester won 15-12, was seen by an average audience of 597,000 (peaking at 831,000) on ITV4, and an average audience of 349,000, (peaking at 480,000) on BT Sport. Overall, it had an average audience of 946,000 (1.3 million peak) – 113% higher than the previous best for a Final in 2009.
The Final also had an audience share of 12.6% when combining the two channels, meaning that one in eight people watching TV in the UK on Saturday (18 June) afternoon were watching it.
In addition to the impressive Final numbers, several season-long viewing records were also broken. Across 2021-22 live average audiences on BT Sport were up 21%, which made them 12% higher than the previous best in 2018-19.
A cumulative average audience of 14.5 million people watched live Gallagher Premiership Rugby on BT Sport and ITV in 2021-22, with a cumulative average audience of 3.2 million tuning into ITV’s highlights.
The 2021-22 season also marked the launch of PRTV Live - where all Gallagher Premiership Rugby matches not on BT Sport or ITV were shown live. After a succesful first year, the D2C service will return for the 2022/23 season.
These growing viewing figures appear to be the first successes of Premiership Rugby returning to ITV earlier this year. After Channel 5’s highlights show was axed early in the season, ITV acquired the rights to four live matches-per-season as well as the final and a highlights show - until the end of the 2023/24 campaign.
Simon Massie-Taylor, chief executive of Premiership Rugby, said: “On the pitch, this Gallagher Premiership Rugby campaign has been unmissable, and to see that off the pitch records also fell shows we are taking significant steps towards our ambition of growing the game and reaching new fans.
“The Final audience peaked at more than one million, which is a big step towards our goal and we thank BT Sport and ITV for making this possible.
“This season our live coverage on BT Sport and ITV was watched by a remarkable cumulative average audience of 14.5 million. We also brought back the popular weekly Sunday-night ITV highlights show and ensured all matches not screened live on BT Sport or ITV were accessible to fans on PRTV Live.
“Our vision for the Gallagher Premiership Final is to create a national sporting moment, and to do this we need to make it accessible to all. Achieving this record average audience has exceeded our original expectations and breaks all our previous records. The Final audience peaked at more than one million, which is a big step towards our goal and we thank BT Sport and ITV for making this possible.”
“The next Gallagher Premiership Rugby Final - on Saturday 27 May 2023 – is planned to be on the ITV main channel as well as BT Sport so we hope to break the record again, and to grow the club game further.”