Official figures show one of the biggest ever New Zealand TV audiences tuned into the opening night Rugby World Cup coverage.

An audience of 1,635,780 watched live broadcasts of the All Blacks playing Tonga on Sky Television and free-to-air broadcasts on Television One and Maori Television.

The match was won 41-10 by the All Blacks.

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."

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).

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.

- Herald Online staff