Calls for BBC to shake up Super League Show and build on World Cup TV figures

James Gordon
Super League Show presenter Tanya Arnold

BBC TV pundit and Super League winning coach Brian Noble says the Super League Show must get greater exposure off the back of the World Cup.

Every one of the 61 games across the men’s, women’s and wheelchair World Cups was broadcast live across the BBC platforms.

That included England’s glorious victory in the wheelchair final at Manchester Central, as well as the men’s and women’s double header final at Old Trafford.

It resulted in unprecedented viewing figures being celebrated by World Cup organisers, who revealed that nearly 30 million people had tuned in.

The peak match audience was the 2.5 million that tuned in to see England’s dramatic semi-final defeat to Samoa.

Making the most of the feel good factor

As ever with a home World Cup, attention soon turns to just how the domestic game can capitalise on the apparent spike in interest.

Writing in his Forty-20 magazine column, Noble said: “There was a feelgood factor around the World Cup, but can we expect it to filter into the domestic game?

“We’re certainly not out the mire there, that’s for sure. It’s all going to look pretty samey again once the new season starts.

“At the very minimum we need a proper highlights package on free-to-air television at a time when more eyeballs can be on it and the whole nation sees it.

“The numbers of people who don’t normally watch but have become rugby league fans now needs servicing rather than starving.”

Allowing the Super League Show it to reach its full potential

The Super League Show has been a staple of the game’s coverage since 1999, though it has never truly had its leash removed.

It was previously only shown in the north, but in recent years, it has been available nationally on BBC Two, albeit at the rather inconvenient time of Tuesday afternoon.

The initial broadcast is usually on Monday nights, though often just before midnight – and is available on the BBC iPlayer.

We previously posed the question to the BBC about their approach to the Super League Show, and showing it in the north only initially.

A spokesperson said: “The Super League Show is broadcast first in the North of England as this is where audience demand and resonance is by far the strongest. The show is then made available to watch on BBC iPlayer and on BBC Two nationally the next day to ensure the sport is made available to the widest possible TV audience.”

Given the majority of Super League games are now played Thursday or Friday nights too, you could argue that the wait for highlights and analysis of those games is too long.

You could also argue that given the geography of rugby league clubs, its more important that the national audience has a better opportunity to view the games.

But rugby league ought to be at least somewhat grateful for the free-to-air coverage it is afforded. While Match of the Day has been a virtual constant on BBC, there is very little in terms of regular, domestic highlights programmes.

Rugby union is covered by ITV4, and their Premiership Rugby highlights show goes out at 8pm on a Sunday, before being repeated at 11.40pm on ITV1.

Initially hosted by Harry Gration, the Super League Show has changed format in recent years – changing from a studio set up to being primarily set on location.

That is usually around one of the featured matches of the week, with a current or former player as guest.

All six Super League games are covered. In recent years, there has been a shortage of magazine-type shows in rugby league, especially since the demise of Sky’s Boots N All, which also used to show highlights albeit in midweek.

Meanwhile, current Super League Show presenter Tanya Arnold is hoping to continue in the role despite announcing she is leaving BBC Yorkshire.

Popular sports reporter Arnold is going freelance, but when asked by multiple fans whether it meant the end of her decade-long stint on the Super League Show, she responded hopefully not.