NSW’s series-saving win in Perth was the most watched State of Origin game since 2019 but the NRL will not host a Sunday night standalone fixture next year.
A Nathan Cleary masterclass was watched by an average audience of more than three million people on Nine, the owners of the Sydney Morning Herald, eclipsing the viewing average of game one this year and every Origin match in the 2020 or 2021 series.
It was the highest rating program of this year’s ratings period, and the most watched Origin game since the 2019 series opener when the Maroons beat Brad Fittler’s Blues at Suncorp Stadium.
The advertised starting time of 7.50pm on the east coast of Australia (5.50pm local time) on Sunday was 20 minutes earlier than the traditional kick-off for Wednesday night clashes. Fans complained about the start time on a school night for game one.
The ratings boost from Origin II comes at a perfect time for the NRL, which had been worried about plateauing television figures for the game’s showpiece series.
Game two also recorded the second-highest broadcaster video on demand audience (394,000) of all time, behind only the game one viewership. The national average audience was recorded as 3.007 million.
Fittler’s Blues blew Queensland off the park in the second half en route to a 44-12 win, setting up a mouth-watering series decider at Suncorp Stadium on July 13.
The NRL will return all three Origin matches to Wednesday nights next year to accommodate a 26-round regular season due to the introduction of the Dolphins as the game’s 17th franchise.
It means the representative round - which also featured the New Zealand-Tonga Test as well as a Pacific doubleheader at Campbelltown Stadium - won’t be played mid-season in 2023.
Watch the State of Origin decider exclusively live and free on Channel 9 and 9Now.
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