NRL's Battle for Members May 20, 2024

NRL's Battle for Members

The Australian football market is one of the most cluttered in the world, with 4 codes – the big guns (NRL/rugby league, AFL) and the challengers (soccer/football, rugby union) all competing for fans.

Even beyond this battle for fans is the challenge of building club membership. It's a critical one for the sustainability of many clubs, and one where there are significant differences between codes. AFL is the clear leader, with an average of over 68,000 members across its clubs, compared to only 23,000 per club in the NRL (figures based on club reporting). With each member worth as much as $100 or more annually, this presents a problem that many NRL clubs are keen to solve.

Edentify's latest research, "Sporting Pulse", uncovered the main drivers of club membership are similar between ARL and NRL clubs. These drivers are emotional, things like a feeling of connecting with the local community, bonding with their family and friends, and being part of their club's heritage. 

While fans are motivated to become members because of their emotional attachment to their team, the barriers to membership are much more rational, with many fans wanting lower cost, more benefits, and better team performance to prompt them to sign up.

The answer then for clubs wanting to boost membership is to increase the emotional appeal of membership – leaning on geographic affiliation and club heritage – as well as addressing some of the cost benefits that stop people from signing up. 

For more information on how Edentify can help understand sports fans, please contact us


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