The World Cup trophy showing the previous tournament winners

One of the largest ever New Zealand television audiences tuned into the opening night of Rugby World Cup 2011 (RWC 2011) official figures show.

Combining the live broadcast by host broadcaster Sky Television on Sky Sport 1, and live broadcasts on free-to-air channels Television New Zealand (One) and Maori Television, an audience of 1,635,780 watched live broadcasts of the opening match between Tonga and New Zealand, won 41-10 by the All Blacks.

* New Zealand television audience of 1.6m households
* Huge global television audience

Rugby World Cup Limited Chairman, Bernard Lapasset said: “Rugby World Cup continues to raise the bar in terms of audiences with each Tournament and New Zealand 2011 is being broadcast in over 200 territories.

“I am delighted that the spectacular opening to the biggest event ever hosted in New Zealand drew such a large television audience in the country. These excellent figures truly show that New Zealanders are right behind the Tournament.”

Rugby New Zealand 2011 Ltd CEO Martin Snedden said the audience figures were extremely satisfying.

“That is an absolutely incredible number especially when you consider that the total potential television audience in New Zealand is 1.9 million households, and some 200,000 people were in central Auckland and another 60,000 were at Eden Park, plus thousands more watching live in Fanzones across the country.

“I would think that this might represent one of the highest rates of viewership for a major event in the host country anywhere, which underlines that our vision of a stadium of four million, and a nationwide festival, has well and truly come to life.”

The television audience number does not include the audience for a delayed broadcast of the match on TV3 nor any of the other delayed broadcasts (online or otherwise).

Similar numbers watched the opening ceremony on Sky and TVNZ (One) with well over one million households tuning in to watch the distinctively New Zealand ceremony which has received rave reviews around the world.

The strong viewing audience continued into day two of the Tournament with 750,000 people tuning in to Sky Sports 1 and Maori Television watch live coverage of Match 5 – England versus Argentina – from Otago Stadium in Dunedin on Saturday evening.

The match concluded a blockbuster day of RWC 2011 matches with an unprecedented four matches staged across New Zealand stretching from Rugby Park Stadium in Invercargill (Romania v Scotland) to North Harbour Stadium at Albany (France v Japan).

To view highlights from the Opening Ceremony, please click here.
Audiences for Opening Match:
RWC 2011 Opening Match:                1,015,180 (8:35pm – 10:20pm)

SKY Sport 1
RWC 2011 Opening Match:                442,880 (8:35pm – 10:15pm)

Maori TV
RWC 2011 Opening Match:                177,720 (8:35pm – 10:20pm)