The 2018 State of Origin series will see Nine make major changes to how one of Australian sport’s greatest rivalries is delivered to consumers.
Nine’s Head of NRL, Simon Fordham, said this year’s changes includes shifts in scheduling designed to open the game up to a wider audience, major technological changes in the broadcast, and an expanded commentary team.
“State of Origin is definitely the jewel in the crown for Nine’s Wide World of Sports,” said Fordham. “In 2017, it delivered the biggest television event of the year with an average of 3.7 million viewers tuning in for Game 3.
“Across the three-game series, we reached over 10 million Australians, and there is no doubt that State of Origin is at the heart of millions of sporting fans across Australia. It’s mate versus mate, state versus state, you are either blue or maroon, and that’s entrenched from a very young age.”
This year’s State of Origin series will be the first time Nine has the digital rights to broadcast the games. Origin 2018 will also see Nine working with the NRL to broaden the game in terms of scheduling and location.
“The fact that Nine has the exclusive rights for Origin is very important,” said Fordham, “because you know the Australian public will be glued to their screens.
“There are some big changes to Origin in 2018. This year we return to Melbourne for Game 1 at the MCG on June 6, which is a huge play for the growth of rugby league across the country. In Game 2 we are in Sydney for the first Sunday night Origin clash in more than 15 years. Then Game 3 will be played at “the cauldron” that is Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.
“It is three big games across a six-week period that promises to be a huge success for Nine.”
Fordham said this year Nine would also drive engagement on its broadcast video on demand platform 9Now with five live streams to give viewers a unique perspective on the game.
“As part of the suite of rights Nine has with the NRL, we have exclusive live and free rights to State of Origin on both Nine’s primary channel and 9Now, not to mention additional clips and highlights on WWOS.com.au,” he said.
“At Nine we are all about creating the best seat in the house and this year with Origin it is going to be better than ever before.
“This year on 9Now we are generating five live streams to create a unique viewing experience for people at home. It will be something they have never seen before. In addition to the broadcast feed there will also be Spidercam, so you don’t miss a single minute of the camera screaming around the arena.”
Nine is also ramping up its commentary team for State of Origin.
“The 2018 coverage is unparalleled, and there is no one who can compete with Nine in Origin this year,” Fordham said.
“Our point of difference has always been our commentary team and their knowledge of the game. Nine has the best commentators – they are our experts and entertainers – in Andrew Johns, Darren Lockyer, Peter Sterling, Paul Vautin,Phil Gould, Wally Lewis, and this year we are adding Johnathan Thurston, Paul Gallen and Sam Thaiday to the commentary team.
“If you packaged them all up together there are 240 games of experience as either players or coaches in State of Origin over the past 30 years. It is unparalleled and is what sets us apart in terms of our competitors.”
Commercially, Fordham said few sporting events in Australia could compete with Origin.
“From a commercial perspective, State of Origin in Australia can be compared to the Super Bowl in America. There is no other place for brands to reach such a mass audience of millions of Australians at one place and one time.
“There is no other sporting property like it, with an audience of that size across so many platforms.
“In 2018, we are taking things to another level. The unparalleled rights that Wide World of Sports has with the linear broadcast, the multicast view on 9Now, and the clips and highlights across WWOS.com.au make Origin one of the most powerful sporting events available to marketers.