Cowboys, Broncos fans not tuning out
THE North Queensland Cowboys were a huge TV ratings hit despite their disappointing 2018 season.
The Cowboys have been revealed as the second-most watched team nationally, behind fellow Queenslanders the Brisbane Broncos.
Johnathan Thurston's final game of his career also drew a huge win for the club, not only against the Gold Coast Titans with a 30-26 defeat, but with the highest audience on Fox Sports of the year and the third highest-rating regular-season NRL game since 2011.
Just under 400,000 people tuned in to watch Thurston run out in Cowboys colours for the last time.
Cowboys Chief Commercial Officer Jeff Reibel said it was a wonderful feeling to have produced such strong ratings Australia-wide.
"It's a testament to the brand of football our players play," he said.
"It's how loyal our fanbase are to us as well - people want to watch us play football."
Mr Reibel said the rivalry between Australia's two most-watched teams was a nod to the quality of football fans had come to expect from a Cowboys-Broncos derby.
"Over the last few years, including this year and last year, the largest television audience for a regular season game has been the Cowboys-Broncos games," he said.
"It shows the passion of Queensland when it comes to rugby league."
Mr Reibel said while importance is placed on ratings, the club also prided themselves on drawing consistent crowds to games.
"Having a balance of people attending our games, that atmosphere and having bums on seats and the boys running out to an average of around 16,000 at our games, that's also really important," he said.
Mr Reibel said representative players like Johnathan Thurston, Michael Morgan, Gavin Cooper, Jason Taumalolo and more also increased engagement from fans of other clubs.
"Data we received tells us that opposition fans have watched our team five times or more this year," he said.
"That is by far the most engaged club from an opposition fan perspective.
"It's a testament to the players and how they represent the region."
Mr Reibel said the club was extremely thankful for the support of viewers, both watching on television and attending games.
"We're always humbled and appreciative of the support we get from members and fans and we're looking forward to getting back out there in 2019," he said.
"It's the passion of our region that makes our club who we are."