Pride, torture and indifference. Three emotions that flow through the Australian populace when the first and third biggest states do battle in the most gladiatorial sporting contest of all: rugby league’s State of Origin.
Unlike in previous years and for major sporting events in general, there is no major industry partner for State of Origin, with Holden having taken over from Harvey Norman and Fujifilm for the 2013 series.
While television ratings and the general mood of the participating states show that, essentially, the good folk of New South Wales and Queensland stop what they are doing to focus solely on the 80 minutes of mayhem, there is a scale sliding from avid interest down to complete apathy west of the Barassi Line.
The match is taking place at Brisbane’s Lang Park, which is known for sponsorship reasons as Suncorp Stadium. Kick-off is at 8pm in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory. That’s 7:30pm in South Australia and the Northern Territory and 6pm in Western Australia.
Channel Nine is the television rights holder and once again it is taking a mid-1990s approach to the match, broadcasting it in Standard Definition on its main channel while simultaneously showing repeats of Rapid Response and RPA in HD on GEM. The match is being broadcast live by Channel Nine and its affiliates in all centres, except Perth, where the match is being shown in HD on GEM.
The first HD broadcast of the match for non-Perth residents will be on Fox Sports 1 (Foxtel Channel 501) at 10:30pm in the Eastern States and Territory and 10:00pm in the Central States and Territory.
It seems like a long time ago that Channel Nine broadcast the match not just in HD but in 3D. Television networks coming to the party with the best in broadcasting technology is essential to encourage consumers to part with their hard earned cash to buy expensive new TVs. It’s a real let down for the industry that big sporting events like State of Origin, Grand Finals and international matches — and it’s not just Channel Nine or rugby league; Seven, Ten and SBS are just as bad with their flagship programming — are only shown in SD.
Coincidentally, today is also the day that Google officially launches Chromecast in Australia. The increasingly easy access to global content over the internet is a huge threat to the local networks and to local sporting competitions. If TV networks do not show their marquee programs in high definition, viewers will simply turn away, preferring instead to watch NBA playoffs in stunning HD, outstanding overseas drama like Game of Thrones or play video games.
Some industry players might say ask what this has to do with retail electronics sales and that’s a fair question. Without attractive content timely broadcast in HD, consumers will not upgrade their TVs or home theatres. They will in increasing numbers illegally download content to watch on existing units. We constantly hear marketers and retailers say they are looking forward to a World Cup or an Olympics as a driver of TV sales but have you ever heard someone say that they are buying a new TV to watch pirated episodes of Breaking Bad?
The lack of forward thinking action by the networks in regards to this — and it really is preposterous that in 2014, State of Origin is only shown in SD — is hurting electronics sales and I certainly hope the major manufacturers are raising this issue with the networks when they meet to discuss Smart TV content deals and the like.
New South Wales by 2 points (New South Wales won by 4 points)
First Try: Darius Boyd (Darius Boyd scored the first try)
Man of the Match: James Tamou (Jarryd Hayne was Man of the Match)