TV fans tune in to Wire-Wigan thriller

Wigan Warriors’ thrilling victory over Warrington Wolves last Saturday was not only played in front of a sell-out crowd but watched by one of Super League’s biggest TV audiences in recent years.

The Halliwell Jones stadium saw Wigan edge out Warrington 22-20 to go top of the league and, despite the Winter Olympics being broadcast on BBC 2, Saturday’s clash attracted the biggest TV audience for a regular round of Engage Super League since April 2008.

Paul Kimberley, Super League’s Commercial Director, said: “The TV audiences for the 2010 season are so far extremely encouraging and are a result of a number of factors including having the majority of games broadcast on Sky Sports HD1.

“This season the contests are proving captivating encounters for the armchair viewer with nearly eight tries per game.  Last Saturday’s game was an absolute thriller with the result in doubt right up until the final hooter.  The coaches and players of all Super League clubs deserve a huge amount of credit for putting on such great games.”

Last Saturday’s game is not the only fixture to have attracted a bumper TV audience this year.

The peak audience for the Round 2 fixture between Wigan Warriors and Hull KR was 33 per cent higher than for the same fixture in the playoffs at Craven Park last year.

January’s Engage Super League match between Crusaders RL and Leeds Rhinos also drew a record peak audience on Sky Sports for an opening round game and the average audience was 35 per cent higher than the fixture between the same two clubs at Headingley Carnegie which kicked off the 2009 season.

Saturday’s bumper crowd at The Halliwell Jones stadium was Engage Super League’s second sell-out crowd of the season.  Crusaders RL’s opening game of the year against Leeds Rhinos drew a capacity crowd at Wrexham’s Racecourse Ground.

This week Sky Sports will be broadcasting four live games of Rugby League starting on Thursday when Sky Sports 3 will show Leigh Centurions versus Barrow Raiders – the first game of The Co-operative Championship season.

In 2009 more than a million people watched The Co-operative Championships live on Sky Sports and overall viewing figures were up by 31 per cent.

Friday sees Hull FC meet Harlequins RL in the Engage Super League on Sky Sports HD3 and on Saturday Castleford Tigers host Hull KR on Sky Sports HD2.

The live coverage climaxes on Sunday evening when Leeds Rhinos meet Melbourne Storm in the Gillette World Club Challenge.  The game is live on Sky Sports HD1 and will also be broadcast to 33 countries around the world reaching a potential audience of 33 million.

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