Opinion

Who won the social media battle between AFL and NRL?

claire waddington isentiaWith the AFL and NRL grand finals taking place over the weekend Claire Waddington looks at which code won the battle for social media attention.

Like many great rivalries – Coke or Pepsi, Uber or taxis, Netflix or Stan – shifts in popular opinion muddy the debate, but according to media intelligence agency, Isentia, there was a clear winner in the longstanding AFL or NRL tug-of-war over the weekend.

AFL social media impressions map

AFL social media impressions map

Among the 400,000 social media mentions measured from Friday to Sunday, AFL fans peaked at 92,000 mentions on Saturday night, with Bill Shorten and Malcolm Turnbull both chiming in on Twitter and Instagram.

Malcolm Turnbull instagram

Come Sunday, 69,000 #NRLGF tweets were orbiting cyberspace with Twittersphere analysing everything from Barnsey’s knee-high leather boots to Ben Hunt’s moments of horror. Just like the game, the winner of the online coverage went into extra time.

NRL map

NRL social media impressions map

Cue a golden field goal from Jonathon Thurston, followed by an intimate moment with his family on the sideline – and social media erupted. The NRL emerged the clear winner with over 106,000 mentions.

This is not surprising: NRL often wins the television rating wars. However, it’s the PR war where the code falls down.

Despite the recent indiscretions of Beau Ryan and Andrew Johns bringing the game back into disrepute, it was the magic of Jonathon Thurston that not only won the game, but the hearts and minds of the Twitterati.

This was the moment league has been waiting for.

A word cloud of most popular phrases for the NRL and AFL over the weekend

A word cloud of most popular phrases for the NRL and AFL over the weekend

And with that, the pollies were back to capitalise on the PR opportunity – and another clear winner emerged. The modest tweets from Turnbull and Shorten were trumped by Mike Baird who ditched the 140-character limit and took to video to share his sentiments.

  • Claire Waddington is marketing and communications manager at Isentia Australia and New Zealand
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