More viewers tuned in to watch NSW smash Queensland in the second State of Origin clash — but not enough to avoid a return to a mid-year series in 2021.
More viewers tuned in to watch NSW smash Queensland in the second State of Origin clash — but not enough to avoid a return to a mid-year series in 2021.

Ratings blow: Post-season Origin dead and buried

Post-season State of Origin looks dead and buried.

A return to a mid-year Origin series in 2021 is almost a certainty after yet another TV ratings blow for the sport.

Nationally across five city metro markets 1.654 million Australians tuned to see the Blues smash the Maroons at Sydney's Olympic Stadium.

That is a slight improvement on the first game of the series, which came in at 1.6 million, but is still a significant decline of nearly 16 per cent or 306,000 viewers on the second game of 2019 at 1.96 million.

Including regional markets, it was the most watched TV of the night with some 2.43 million Australians watching the game, a drop of more than 13 per cent on last year's 2.8 million viewers.

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While Origin is traditionally played in the middle of the NRL season, the impact of COVID-19 this year meant moving the annual blockbuster to November.

The disappointing ratings result comes not only as Origin's position on the rugby league calendar is hotly debated, but as the NRL is preparing to negotiate its free-to-air television rights deal.

Earlier this week, ARLC Chairman Peter V'landys said the future of State of Origin matches being played in November was highly unlikely and that the annual interstate series would return to its normal mid-season schedule.

"More likely than not that this (State of Origin series) will be the one and only time (in November) because the ratings weren't very good last week," V'landys said.

"I know there's been a few excuses and we'll see if those excuses are credible come Wednesday night when it's a live rubber. And I think one of the reasons why the ratings were down was that no one gave Queensland a chance, but anyone that follows rugby league, you always give Queensland a chance and they proved that again. Next year is a different story and if we're able to have crowds, mid-season is probably the right place but let's just see what happens tomorrow night.

Originally published as Ratings blow: Post-season Origin dead and buried


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