All Blacks boost TV ratings

THE All Blacks' opening match against Tonga on Friday night was the most-watched event in New Zealand history.

Ratings show almost two million people watched the game across the four channels that screened the match live - and that's not including the thousands who watched on screens in bars.

Until Friday, the Tua and Lewis fight in 2000 was the highest-rated event, attracting an audience across the fight of 1.8 million viewers on TV3.

Second on the list was Charles and Diana's wedding, which attracted 1.6 million viewers on TV One in 1981.

According to official Nielsen Television Audience Management ratings, Friday night's opening match attracted a cumulative audience of 1,930,000 shown across TV One, Maori TV, Sky Sport 1 & the Rugby Channel, which all screened it live.

A further 78,200 people watched the delayed coverage on TV3.

The ratings company gathers its data for everyone over 5 years old by using people meters to work out the average audience number.

Media commentator Martin Gillman said the ratings were a fantastic result and it was a great start to the tournament.

"That's really good news ... the country's really getting behind the tournament."

He said the total viewers would have been much higher because the ratings counted only those watching it at home.

"There would have been thousands more out at pubs and clubs watching."

Mr Gillman expected ratings to drop off during the pool matches and then build again towards the final.

If the All Blacks make the final, Mr Gillman said he expected that game to beat the opening match's ratings.

"An All Blacks final would beat that for sure - almost everyone would watch that," the chief executive of Total Media said.

TV One picked up 64 per cent of the total audience with 1,015,180 people tuning in to its coverage.

Mr Gillman said that was because a lot of people would have chosen to watch the opening ceremony and the fireworks on One and then stayed on the channel to watch the match.

"But I'm sure a lot of people would have flicked between all the channels to check out the different coverage," he said.

A TVNZ spokeswoman said,"On the night, rugby was the winner. All the broadcasters did their part to contribute to this fantastic result."

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