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AFL head and shoulders above the rest

The Australian Football League (AFL), or Aussie Rules as it is known, is the biggest money spinner out of all of Australia’s major sporting codes.

AFL earns more than three times NRL (Rugby League), four times that of the A-League (soccer) and six times that of rugby union, according to a report by IBISWorld. The AFL saw revenues of $425 million from ticket sales, sponsorships, television rights and merchandise in 2012, according to the report.

By comparison, the NRL generated less than half that, with $185 million from broadcast rights, ticket sales and sponsorships, while rugby union saw $70 million flow into its coffers. The NRL should see a kick this year, as the $1.025 billion, five-year TV rights deal begins.

Cricket Australia attendances have fallen from over 8% of the population to 3.3%, but still managed to bring in more revenue than the NRL, with $205 million. Tennis Australia wasn’t far behind with $186 million.

By number of spectators, the AFL continues to lead, with 2.8 million unique spectators, or just over 16% of the population, compared to NRL, which has seen its attendances drop to 1.6 million spectators, and just 8.9% of the population.

Football’s A-League is gathering momentum though, almost doubling spectators since 1995. The increasing presence of international football stars, and the Socceroos’ success in most recent times in Football World Cups almost certainly leading to a resurging interest in the game.

Foxtel, Australia’s pay-TV broadcaster now shows every A-League football game, along with AFL, NRL and rugby union matches. Jointly owned by Telstra Corporation (ASX: TLS) and News Corporation (ASX: NWS), Foxtel has also recently announced plans to broadcast netball’s ANZ Championships as well as international matches live, in conjunction with free-to-air network SBS.

Foolish takeaway

AFL still remains Australia’s most popular and financially successful sport, and appears to be growing its audience, despite competition from rising sports such as the A-League.

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The Motley Fool’s purpose is to help the world invest, better. Click here now for your free subscription to Take Stock, The Motley Fool’s free investing newsletter. Packed with stock ideas and investing advice, it is essential reading for anyone looking to build and grow their wealth in the years ahead.  This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson. Motley Fool writer/analyst Mike King doesn’t own shares in any companies mentioned.

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