Connecting People With Sport: 11.2m Australians Go Online For Sports Content

Posted by Steven Poyser On May 09, 2017 Media Releases

Sydney, Australia – 10 May 2017: March heralded the start of the AFL and NRL 2017 seasons. This, along with other sports events – both local and abroad – drove increases in Australians going online for sports-related content, according to data released by Nielsen.

Nielsen Digital Ratings (Monthly) data revealed 11.2 million Australians visited online content related to the sports category via any device during the month of March 2017, up 8% compared to February 2017. Time spent per person consuming this content also reported an overall increase of 64%. Access via desktop was the preferred screen used (6.9M), followed by smartphones (5.4M) and tablet (3.0M). However, growth was exceptionally strong for audiences accessing sports content online via the latter two mobile devices – see table below.


DEVICE FEB-2017 (000’s) MAR-2017 (000’s) % CHANGE
Total 10,367 11,201 8.04%
Desktop 6,566 6,941 5.71%
Smartphone 4,736 5,438 14.82%
Tablet 2,414 3,090 28.00%
Source: Nielsen Digital Ratings (Monthly) – March 2017



Device MARCH – 2017
Total 1:46:29
Desktop 1:00:31
Smartphone 2:08:46
Tablet 0:23:26

Source: Nielsen Digital Ratings (Monthly) – March 2017

Gai Le Roy, IAB Australia Director of Research, said “It is important to note that although desktop has the largest audience numbers, people are spending over double the amount of time on sports content on their phones. This further puts to rest the idea that people only snack on content on their phones.”

Nielsen’s Head of Media Monique Perry said more screens mean more opportunities for Australians to access sporting content. “Our data shows that Australians are increasingly accessing content online via mobile and other connected devices, and sport is certainly no exception. The end result is that more Australians have an opportunity to access sports content, whether via a TV screen in their home or via a smartphone while out and about – there is no longer a risk of missing scores or not accessing the latest sporting news. This also means more opportunities for brands and advertisers to reach and engage the Australian sports enthusiast,” added Perry.

The top five sites and apps in the sports category ranked by unique audience all reported strong, double digit growth in March 2017 compared with the prior month. Telstra Media AFL reported 3.4 million (+68%), ESPN Digital Network 3.3 million (+63%), Telstra Media NRL 2.2 million (+69%), Fox Sports 1.9 million (+36%) and Cricket Australia 1.7 million (+14%) – see table below.



  FEB-2017 (000’s) MAR-2017 (000’s) % CHANGE
Telstra Media AFL 2,032 3,421 68.36%
ESPN Digital Network 2,030 3,317 63.40%
Telstra Media NRL 1,310 2,214 69.01%
FOX SPORTS 1,371 1,861 35.74%
Cricket Australia 1,525 1,732 13.57%

Source: Nielsen Digital Ratings (Monthly) – March 2017

Nielsen data revealed that males account for over half (56%) of all Australians who visit a sports-related content online, and are the key drivers of growth – up 13% in March 2017 versus the prior month, compared to 2% for females.

Sport was the most active genre on Nielsen Social Content Ratings for March 2017. One in every two social media interactions was about live Sport. Total Facebook and Twitter interactions for each code for the month of March were:

  • NRL – 2 million (FoxLeague/Nine)
  • AFL – 1.2 million (FoxFooty/Seven)
  • Formula One – 418 thousand (Ten/FoxSports506)

The Essendon v Hawthorn AFL game (25/3/2017, Network Seven/Fox Footy simulcast) was the most social episode of the month of March across all genres. For AFL, males 25-34 were the most likely to author content via social media, however Females 25-34 were more likely to engage/interact with the content of other fans via Facebook and Twitter.


Join us for our very first IAB Sports in Digital Media Seminar, more details here. 


IAB Australia, which sanctions Nielsen’s Digital Ratings (Monthly) solution, will host a Sports in Media Seminar on Tuesday, May 16, featuring presentations from Nielsen Sports, Nine Entertainment Co, Seven West Media and Telstra Sports.


For further information, contact:



Jackie Helliker

T: + 61 403 074 864




Nielsen Holdings plc (NYSE: NLSN) is a global performance management company that provides a comprehensive understanding of what consumers Watch and Buy. Nielsen’s Watch segment provides media and advertising clients with Total Audience measurement services across all devices where content — video, audio and text — is consumed. The Buy segment offers consumer packaged goods manufacturers and retailers the industry’s only global view of retail performance measurement. By integrating information from its Watch and Buy segments and other data sources, Nielsen provides its clients with both world-class measurement as well as analytics that help improve performance.  

Nielsen, an S&P 500 company, has operations in over 100 countries that cover more than 90 percent of the world’s population. For more information, visit

Steven Poyser