Saturday Night’s AFL Women’s Match Was A Ratings Smash

Now how about paying them a decent wage?

The AFL will find itself facing additional pressure to up the pitiful wages of the players in next year’s inaugural national women’s league, after Saturday night’s exhibition match between Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs drew in more TV viewers in Melbourne than any men’s game this year.

Most Players In The New AFL Women’s League Will Be Paid Just $5,000

The All-Star women’s game, which showcased the skills of some of the best players who will line up in next year’s eight team competition, drew in an average national television audience of 746,000 people, including 387,000 viewers in Melbourne alone. The latter number easily smashed the 347,000 viewers enjoyed by the year’s highest rated men’s game, between St Kilda and Geelong back in June. At its highest point the women’s match drew in 1.05 million viewers around the country.

AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan said that the knockout ratings were a sign of the enormous interest footy fans had in the upcoming women’s comp. “These are massive TV numbers, and beyond our expectations. It is thrilling for the AFL and our women players,” he said in a statement. “The 6,365 crowd at Whitten Oval and the TV viewers watched a fast, skillful and ferocious brand of football, and the women provided a great taste of what’s to come when the national league begins in 2017.”

Of course the ratings success will rightfully draw more attention to the pay disparity between male and female players. Reports last week revealed that the AFL planned to pay most female players just $5000 for next year’s seven game plus finals season, an offer that has been rejected by the AFL Player’s Association.

“We are still negotiating the standard playing contract with the AFL and at this point we are some distance apart,” association chief Paul Marsh told the Herald Sun. “These athletes have worked incredibly hard to get to this level and we strongly believe they should be provided with the same opportunities to thrive in the game as the men do.”

Viewer numbers aside for a moment, last Saturday’s game was an absolute cracker, with future Collingwood star Moana Hope kicking a bag of six and inspiring the Dogs to 39-point win. Any footy fan who doesn’t think that’s worth a decent wage is absolutely out of their mind.

Feature image via Steph Chiocci/Twitter