Eels vs. Broncos delivers huge TV ratings for NRL return

The NRL's long-awaited return to action on Thursday night delivered a huge ratings hit, with the Eels-Broncos clash the competition's highest rating game since 2014.

In a completely empty Suncorp Stadium, the Eels smashed the Broncos. But the one-sided nature of the game didn't impact the TV figures, with more than 1.3 million viewers tuning in.

It was a 29.5 percent rise on the corresponding Round 3 game in 2019 and the NRL's largest combined market share in six years.

NRL acting CEO Andrew Abdo lauded the TV figures on Friday.

"Last night was our highest rating regular season game in six years - that's an outstanding result for the game and our broadcast partners," he said.

"Everything our chairman Peter V'landys and the Commission have done has been for our fans, our partners and our shareholders - the clubs and states.

"We're delighted the resumption of the competition attracted so much interest and exposure for our partners."

Channel Nine's 951,938 viewers across metro and regional markets for Thursday night footy were the highest free-to-air ratings for an in-season game since 2016, while Fox Sports' additional 355,000 viewers ranked as the highest-rating game for a simulcast in the broadcaster's history.

Alos on Thursday night, the NRL announced an extended broadcast deal with Fox Sports that will see the code remain with the broadcast group until the end of 2027.

After weeks of extended negotiations, Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter V'landys and Foxtel CEO Patrick Delaney reached an agreement hours before the restart of the NRL season.

The deal extends the NRL's current contract for an extra five years.

"I am delighted to have worked with our long-standing partners Foxtel and Nine to reshape and resume the 2020 NRL Telstra Premiership," Mr V'landys said.