After record highs, NRL's television viewership plummets 38 percent

The NRL's broadcast viewership numbers have come crashing back down, just one week after the league recorded four-year television highs.

Last week's free-to-air Thursday night game between the Broncos and Eels -- the first professional Australian sporting event to be broadcast in almost three months -- attracted an audience of 952,000. However, a report from Mediaweek shows Thursday's Round 4 clash between the Broncos and Roosters managed just 619,000, a 35 percent drop.

The reduction was even more profound on the pay television networks, with 401,000 watching the Fox Sports broadcast in the NRL's return week, compared to 216,000 the following week.

Overall, Thursday night's game between the Roosters and Broncos had a combined audience of 835,000, a 38 percent dip from last week's 1,353,000.

It's unclear at this stage how much of the audience decline can be attributed to the unevenness of the game, with Sydney dominating Brisbane to win 59-0.

The NRL's broadcast viewership is expected to dip again in Round 5 with the AFL resuming its season on June 11.