AUCKLAND, New Zealand – An unprecedented 81% of the population (15 years and older) were glued to screens across New Zealand to watch the opening game of the Rugby World Cup, according to the results of a survey conducted by Nielsen.
"New Zealanders take their Rugby very seriously as can be seen by an unprecedented audience of viewers who watched at home, at a friend’s home, in a pub or at one of the many outdoor venues set up for the tournament. To establish live viewing of the game both in-home and out-of-home and for the opening ceremony, Nielsen conducted a special survey of all individuals (15+) in their 500-home Television Audience Measurement panel," said Claire Harris, Managing Director of Nielsen Television Audience Measurement in New Zealand.
The Rugby World Cup is the third biggest international sporting event after the Olympic Games and the FIFA World Cup. 80 nations compete in qualifiers over 3 years for 20 spots in the final competition. The match between the 2011 Host nation’s team, the New Zealand All Blacks, and the Pacific Island nation of Tonga, was the first of 48 matches to be played and televised over the ensuing six weeks. The 2011 qualifying teams also include Australia, England, France, Italy, South Africa, United States, Wales, Scotland and Ireland, who are all competing for the holy grail of International Rugby, the Webb Ellis Cup.
"It was a perfect day for the Opening Ceremony and inaugural match of the tournament, and there were numerous outdoor venues to watch the game with crowds exceeding all expectations.
"The massive audience for the opening game illustrates the power of television in making such a wonderful event accessible to sports fans right across the country," Harris added.
The study also showed that people viewing out-of-home were more likely to be male, younger and from Auckland.