As Grand Final weekend delivered the very best in sporting action on the field, several major sporting milestones were achieved off the field, with Telstra’s AFL and NRL Live Apps hitting huge uplifts in audience numbers for both games compared to last year.

On Saturday, the AFL Official Live App – created by Telstra – hit a new record with the unique audience across the match 74% higher than in 2016. In addition, fans streamed 5.5 million minutes of footy action on that day alone – 201% more minutes of AFL action compared to last year’s Grand Final.

On Sunday, live streaming of the 2017 NRL Grand final followed suit; unique viewers of the live game were up 97% on last year, with fans streaming 245% more minutes of Grand Final rugby league action than 2016.

The popularity of our Live Apps, along with the Telstra Live Pass giving Telstra customers access to premium content live, fast and data free speaks for itself.

Telstra introduced a host of new features and innovations to the AFL Live app in season 2017, including a new user interface and player tracking, that revolutionised the way Telstra customers could engage with the game and their favourite players – by putting them in the coach’s seat.

We are now looking forward to launching the new NRL official live app for 2018 with Telstra exclusives to be announced next year – as we embark on a new five-year digital partnership with the NRL, fans will benefit from a new NRL Official Live App in 2018.

In December, the new NRL Official App, created by Telstra Media’s Product Innovation team, will launch in preparation for the 2018 Telstra Premiership season.

Taking a fan-first approach we have redesigned the app in collaboration with our colleagues at the NRL. Using fan personas and an agile approach to the rebuild, we will align with the visual design and usability of the new responsive sites.

The 2018 NRL Official App will have a cleaner look throughout the news and draw pages, giving users an uncluttered look at articles and fixtures. And there will be more team and player stats available creating an increasingly engaging environment for footy fans.

Telstra customers will also have access to special features in the app throughout the 2018 season, such as augmented reality ‘Facepaint’ which was a popular and sharable feature during State of Origin and the Finals Series this year.

But of course, the live stream remains the hero of the app because we know fans want to watch footy from wherever they are, live, fast and data free.

Our ambition at Telstra is to be a world class technology company and this is really showcased in our sports products. We have amazing depth in terms of the product capability in our team, and when you put this together with our local sports rights and relationships with the sporting bodies – we’re leading the way in terms of building amazing sports products and experiences for Australian fans.

For sports fans, their mobile devices keep them connected to live sport which they may otherwise miss due to busy lifestyles, as we just saw fans watch on the beat in their police cars, in the outback, from rooftops, hilltops, weddings, offices, farms and even from the bottom of a swimming pool.

With NRL Live Pass subscribers up 260% year-on-year for season 2017, and with more than 650,000 unique visitors visiting the app 3.6 million times per round – we know these fans, and more, will be back in 2018.

For now, it’s our job to keep adding features, testing and enhancing the user experience to give NRL fans even more reasons to interact with the app in the year ahead.

Until then, you can continue to keep up to date with all the latest NRL news, including the soon to be released 2018 Telstra Premiership draw, the Rugby League World Cup and any off-season player transfers, all on the NRL Official App.

Keep an eye out for the new-look NRL app in early December.