AFL grand final has bumper TV audience

The bumper TV ratings for Saturday's grand final highlight why the AFL is pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into the two northern expansion teams.

The Western Bulldogs's fairytale win over Sydney was the fourth most-watched game in AFL history.

The combined metro and regional average of 4.089 million viewers on the Seven Network was a whopping 16 per cent increase on last year's Hawthorn v West Coast grand final.

It also means the top six games are all Sydney grand finals.

The record remains Sydney's 1996 grand final loss to North Melbourne at 4.4 million, which narrowly beat their drought-breaking 2005 win over West Coast.

The Swans' grand final loss to West Coast in 2006 is third at 4.15 million.

Sydney's 2012 grand final win over Hawthorn and their '14 loss to the Hawks fill the next two spots.

The AFL have set up the Giants and Gold Coast clubs as the cornerstones of a long-term strategy to strengthen the game's presence in NSW and Queensland.

While the Suns are yet to make the top eight, the Giants narrowly lost their preliminary final to the Bulldogs.