A sport that originated in Melbourne in 1858, Australian rules football or AFL is one of the most popular sports in Australia today. While no one doubts the popularity of AFL in Australia, many people want to know where the sport ranks when compared to the other sports played in Australia such as soccer, cricket, and field hockey. To answer the aforementioned question, we’re going to discuss some facts and figures related to the Australian football league.


As mentioned earlier, Australian rules football originated in Melbourne in 1858. However, it wasn’t until 1897 that Australian rules football became an organized sport. 1897 was when the AFL, known as the Victorian Football league then, was organized for the very first time. The inaugural season of the AFL or Victorian Football league had participation from eight teams. Today, the competition has grown to an 18-team event. This clearly indicates that AFL has grown in popularity in Australia over the years. Another reason to believe that AFL is growing in popularity each year is the fact that the people punting on AFL are increasing each year.

The VFL remained as an 8-team event until 1908 when the competition was expanded to ten teams and, in 1925, it became a 12-team event. In 1990, the competition was renamed as the Australian football leaguethe name it bears today. The competition was expanded to 14 teams in 1990 and 15 in 1991. AFL became an 18-team event in 2012 and it has stayed that way to date. The increase in the number of teams over the years is just one of the things indicating the growing popularity of AFL in Australia.

Let’s look at some of the other things that indicate that AFL is one of the most popular, if not the most popular, sports in Australia.

How popular is AFL now?

According to reports released during the first quarter of 2014, the number of people that tuned into to watch AFL games in 2013 was 7.83 million. This was 0.4 million more than cricket viewership, 1.11 million more than NRL, 3.83 million more than soccer and 4.2 million more than rugby union.

Looking at the aforementioned-figures, we can confidently say that AFL is the most popular sport in Australia in terms of TV viewership. In fact, only two sportscricket and NRLcome close to AFL in terms of TV viewership. The good thing about AFL is that it is equally popular among men and women.

Of the 7.83 million people watching AFL in 2013, 3.45 million or 44% were women.

In addition to being the most popular sport in Australia in terms of TV viewership, AFL was the Australian sport that generated the most revenue in 2013. In 2013, AFL raked in $425 million which was $220 million more than cricket, the second highest grosser.