Rugby league pundits agree the post-season State of Origin timeslot was worth trialling, but should be remembered as a one-time experiment.
The three-match series traditionally takes place in the winter months, part-way through the NRL premiership, but the annual competition was pushed back to November due to the coronavirus epidemic.
The Queensland Maroons secured a shock 18-14 victory in Game I at Adelaide Oval, but the television ratings were a concerning flop.
The Nine Network’s coverage recorded their lowest ratings in 17 years with a metro audience of 1,598,000, down 25 per cent from last year’s corresponding fixture.
ARLC chairman Peter V’landys boldly claimed the dip in television ratings was due to a clash with the United States Presidential race.
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Regardless, several Origin players showed signs of fatigue on Wednesday after a challenging 2020 season, and viewers noticed the spectacle lacked its usual flair.
“Did the game feel a bit flat to you?” cricket journalist Peter Lalor asked on ABC’s Offsiders.
“It just feels to me, almost like, ‘That is this still going on?’ I am not a big fan of State of Origin coming on after the season.”
Queenslands Cameron Munster evades Damien Cook to score.Source:News Corp Australia
Sports columnist Roy Masters agreed, suggesting the condensed schedule eliminated a sense of growing anticipation for fans.
“These guys are going to play three games in three weeks, whereas before, it was three games over nine weeks. And so expectation was allowed to build and build, and the romance and the mystery of it all,” Masters said.
“Now, bang, bang, bang, at a time too players are very tired after a long and arduous season, particularly this one.”
Wayne Bennett’s Queenslanders have set up a fascinating State of Origin contest, but should the series make a permanent shift to the post-season? #offsiders pic.twitter.com/xWtMM7S8FF
Former Australian netballer Bianca Chatfield elaborated: “Players are exhausted, fans get exhausted. It has been a huge NRL season. So much going on in 2020. I’m not surprised that people are starting to tune out a little bit now.”
Sydney Morning Herald reporter Andrew Webster echoed Masters’ comments on Sunday morning.
“The fact there was no build-up for however many months we have to build up Origin, we usually talk about who the NSW halfback would be in December,” Webster said on Channel 9’s Sports Sunday.
“We didn’t have that this year. I thought it was telling. It was flat in terms of hype.”
Former Wallaby Peter FitzSimons agreed: “It didn’t seem to me to have the Origin intensity.”
Sydney’s ANZ Stadium will host Game II of the State of Origin series on Wednesday evening.
Are you a fan of the post-season State of Origin series? 🤔
Sports Sunday | Channel 9 pic.twitter.com/PZMpSFMCKo
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