Elstone’s delight at rising summer figures

Super League has reported higher attendances and TV viewing figures for August, compared to the same month last year.

Super League CEO Robert Elstone believes the rise suggests supporters prefer a “bankable” play-off format.

The Super 8s have been replaced this year by loop fixtures and a classic top-five play-off format.

Elstone said: “Super League clubs were unanimous is their desire to introduce a ‘bankable’ league format that provided fixture certainty for fans, broadcasters and partners.

“The new format and a stronger fixture list has seen great numbers across the opening rounds and an Easter record.

“Across the summer, the race to make the top five or avoid relegation has grabbed the attention of all Super League fans.”

The report states: “Sky Sports has seen a 27 per cent increase in average audience in August compared with the corresponding stages of last season’s Super 8s.

“TV figures were comparably impressive in July – up 24 per cent compared with a year ago.

“Three of last month’s games are among the most watched matches of the season with two of those ranked in the top five – Leeds Rhinos v St Helens and Warrington Wolves v St Helens.

“Five clubs – Salford Red Devils, St Helens, Catalans Dragons, Warrington Wolves and Hull KR – have reported their highest increase in attendances over the last five seasons, with Salford and Catalans up 25 per cent in August.

Elstone added: “There’s been something at stake in almost every match over the past couple of months.

“And all of that comes to an amazing conclusion this weekend when nerves will be shredded and emotions will run high.

“We couldn’t have written it better.’’