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What are the 5 most popular sports in Australia?

Sport is a crucial part of life in Australia and a true passion for millions of Australians. Moreover, Aussies have their own ideas about what the most exciting sports in the world are. And they have their own version of football, too… So, get ready! It’s time to find out more about Australia’s top sports with STATSCORE!

What are the most popular sports in Australia?

Let’s take a look at data on sports spectatorship in the last seasons.

Sport Competition Total spectatorship Average attendance
Australian football AFL 7,517,677 36,317
Rugby league NRL 3,176,561 15,804
Soccer A-League 1,405,469 10,411
Cricket BBL 1,212,696 20,554
Cricket WBBL (women’s league) 852,549 14,450
Basketball NBL 688,712 6,622

Data for seasons 2018-19; total spectatorship – cumulative attendance at the venues throughout the season.

In this article, we’ll focus on the most popular sports leagues in the country. Still, it’s worth noting that a number of individual sports, such as tennis, golf, running, swimming, and horse racing are also very popular in Australia.

Having said that, let’s check out Australia’s most exciting sports leagues!

1. Australian football (AFL)

As we all know, the word football means different things in different parts of the world. In the United States, you’ve got American football, obviously, while in Europe Association football (soccer) is definitely the king. But that’s not the end of it! There’s also, among other variations, Canadian football and… yes, Australian rules football. 

Australian rules football is the most popular sport in the country, both in terms of attendance and total spectatorship.

The game was first played 162 years ago in Melbourne and has since then become hugely popular in every state and territory of Australia, especially in Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania and Northern Territory.

The Australian Football League is the highest level of men’s competition in the sport. The league is currently contested by 18 teams from Australia’s six states.

The season consists of a 23-round regular season, which is played from March to September. The eight teams with the best record advance to a four-round finals series, which culminates in the AFL Grand Final held at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

2. Rugby league (NRL)

Rugby league is in fact, another type of football game, which is extremely popular in various regions of the world (and to make things more complicated is often simply called football in Oceania!)

Throughout its history, rugby has been competing with Australian football for the attention of the country’s sports fans. Historically, rugby league and rugby union have been especially popular in New South Wales, The Australian Capital Territory and Queensland.

National Rugby League (NRL) is the top-level rugby league competition in Australia. The competition consists of sixteen clubs which compete within a single group system (there are no divisions or conferences), without relegation to or promotion from other leagues.

The 2019 NRL season attracted 3,176,561 spectators to the venues, which translated into an average attendance of 15,804 fans per game. Moreover, it rated 88,201 million viewers, which means an average viewership per game was 459,000.

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3. Soccer (A-League)

So… it’s football again! Though, at least today, we’ll call it soccer to make things a bit simpler. 

A-League is the top-level professional soccer competition in Australia. It was established in 2004 as a successor to the National Soccer League. The league is currently contested by twelve teams, including one based in New Zealand.

The A-League season runs from October to May and consists of a 26-round regular season, which is followed by a playoff involving the highest-ranked teams, culminating in a Grand Final match.

Attract Australian fans to your betting website with STATSCORE’s trackers!

4. Cricket (BBL and WBBL)

Cricket is widely regarded as Australia’s national summer sport and is among the earliest organised sports in the country.

The sport is deeply rooted in the history and culture of the nation.  The Boxing Day Test match, held annually on December 26, is the most popular sporting event in summer, and The Ashes played between England and Australia are one of the most anticipated and followed sporting events in the country.

The Big Bash League (BBL) is the top professional men’s Twenty20 cricket competition in Australia, and one of the best cricket leagues in the world. With the average attendance of over 20,000 spectators per game, the BBL is one of the most attended sports leagues around the globe.

Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL), top-level women’s cricket competition, launched in 2015, has also become one of Australia’s most-followed sports competitions.

Learn more about cricket!

5. Basketball (NBL)

Basketball is one of the most popular participation sports in the country, and in some places, like Victoria and Melbourne, has more participants than any other sport.

The National Basketball League (NBL) is the country’s top competition. It is currently composed of eight teams from Australia and one based in New Zealand.

The NBL season consists of the regular season, during which team plays 28 games, and the Finals to which the top four teams advance. The Finals culminate in the Grand Final, the winner of which is crowned as the NBL champion.

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