Good news for Channel 9 is bad news for State of Origin fans

NSW players, pictured here ahead of State of Origin Game II in Perth.
NSW players look on ahead of State of Origin Game II in Perth. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

It started earlier, was played on a standalone weekend and delivered Channel 9 its best ratings for a State of Origin match in three years – but don't expect Sunday night's Game II blockbuster to bring about a re-think over future scheduling.

Despite the resounding success of the Perth match for host broadcaster Nine – the national audience peaked at 3.007 million across all platforms - Origin will return to its traditional Wednesday night time-slot for all three games in 2023.

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In doing so, the NRL and Nine are seemingly ignoring the 'customer is always right' mantra at a time when the fight for audience share has never been fiercer.

But our go-to man on all things TV –'s Steve Molk – does not see it as a gamble as mitigating circumstances were at play in Perth.

"The figures (for Sunday) were stronger than for the first game, although not close to the game's strongest," he told Yahoo Sport Australia.

"I think the primary drawcard was the two big audiences - NSW and Queensland – couldn't attend the game so they all watched on TV.

"And being a Sunday night game meant more people at home.

"The challenge is most fans think of Origin on Wednesday nights as the place to be."

Andrew Abdo and Peter V'landys, pictured here during the Anzac Day game between the Dragons and Roosters.
Andrew Abdo and Peter V'landys look on during the Anzac Day game between the Dragons and Roosters. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images) (Mark Kolbe via Getty Images)

Channel Nine hit Origin gold no matter the start time

The Perth match began at 7.52pm in the rugby league-loving eastern states – at least 20 minutes earlier than normal Origin kick-off times – and that was pushed as another reason ratings were higher.

ARL chairman Peter V'Landys will no doubt cite that information when he sits down with his commission members to discuss how they might twist Nine's arm to ensure a more supporter-friendly time-slot in the future.

V'Landys has vowed to fight on this front for fans, but Molk warns it's one of the rare battles he won't win.

He said: "It's appointment TV, so 7:55pm or 8:25pm people will still watch. But the later it is, the better for Nine. It blocks out the competition for the night."

The bad news for viewers is now that the series is going to a decider, the game could start at midnight and Nine knows it's still on a winner.

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