Analysis by Patrick Avenell

SYDNEY, NSW: Channel Nine and Harvey Norman chairman Gerry Harvey last night announced that the 2010 NRL State of Origin will be broadcast in 3D. Both parties claim that this will be the first live sporting event widely broadcasted using this nascent technology.

Unlike previous 3D broadcasts, such as Arsenal’s home game against Manchester United, which had selected broadcast, this telecast will be for everyone that has invested in a 3D TV for their home. In addition, some cinemas will also broadcast the match in 3D, at a nominal cost, for interested parties that have not bought a dedicated TV set.

Heretofore, it was expected that certain games from the 2010 FIFA World Cup would be the first major broadcast of 3D sport in the world. This gazumping is great news for rugby league, which is still being tarnished by the Melbourne Storm scandal; Harvey Norman, which is set to capitalise both from TV sales and increased exposure from its sponsorship deals; and Samsung, which is the only supplier currently with 3D TVs in the market.

Although the State of Origin game itself won’t be changed by how it’s broadcasted, this announcement is game changing. According to News Limited papers this morning, Harvey Norman has already sold 750 3D TVs since they went on sale last week. With rugby league considered an excellent sport to watch on TV, and with rugby league fans known for their preference for watching games on TV, this announcement is set to increase demand substantially for the new technology.

One Samsung insider told that the supplier is extremely happy with the news, with Samsung the only brand that can capitalise on the interest. Sony has confirmed to that it will not be changing its release dates to take advantage of this news.

Harvey Norman has also scored a major coup with this news. The retailer has been a long time sponsorship partner of rugby league in Australia, and through director Katie Page’s board membership of the NRL, there are clear synergies. In a week that has seen a vote to approve executive pay rises cancelled and the retailer unwittingly involved in the Melbourne Storm salary cap debacle, this announcement is excellent news for the retailer.