Nine's State of Origin series broadcast to smash revenue record

Arvind Hickman
By Arvind Hickman | 3 June 2016
Dane Gagai scores a try for the Maroons in their game one victory over the Blues.

Nine is on track to sell out advertising for State of Origin game two in what is shaping up to be the most lucrative series yet.

Nine Network sport sales director Sam Brennan told AdNews he was a “very happy man” yesterday after game one smashed the average metro audience record for a State of Origin encounter with an average of 2.7 million viewers tuning in.

What makes the game one audience even more remarkable is that it was a largely dour affair and the first match of the series normally never rates as well as game two, where more is on the line.

Brennan told AdNews he believes the audience has grown due to an unlikely reason.

“In this brave new world of where Fox Sports is simulcasting (NRL games) with us, the combination of viewers is bigger than last year. You’ve got a bigger pool of people interested in rugby league now, which was made pretty clear [on Wednesday night] with the numbers,” he says.

“The more exposure people have to quality sport when it is on two platforms as opposed to one, you’ve automatically grown the potential.”

Although Nine and Fox Sports go head-to-head on NRL games, Nine has exclusive coverage of the State of Origin.

Bigger audiences are welcome news for Nine’s sales team as it helps provide momentum to sell advertising spots for the rest of the series.

A 30-second ad spot for game one yielded about $145,000 and Brennan says game two (on 22 June) is well on its way to selling out at this price point as a minimum.

“Game three you wait and see what happens (on the field) but game two I think we are going to have the same if not a better result based on the audience we delivered last night,” Brennan predicts.

“Game two is generally the strongest ratings so demand for it is going to be huge. We’re already ahead of [selling advertising for game two] as this time as last year and Wednesday night’s result is going to get us home. I expect demand to be close to a record high.”

Nine prices advertising with a flat rate across all three matches but if demand outstrips supply then the price may rise.

Game three demand fluctuates depending on whether the match is a series decider or dead rubber, but it still always rates among the top shows in a given year.

The State of Origin is one of Nine's premium properties. With a national audience generally pushing around the four million mark, it often attracts higher ratings than NRL grand finals, particularly if two less popular teams are playing.

Sponsorship has also been strong with a return of Diageo's Bundaberg Rum returning to its rugby league heartland after a couple of years' break.

Nine only has eight sponsors for the State of Origin to keep it exclusive. This year they are Sportsbet, Bundaberg Rum, XXXX, Village Roadshow, Telstra, Harvey Norman, Holden and KFC.

Brennan says revenue generated from sponsors and advertisers should be a new record high.

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