By Patrick Avenell

SYDNEY, NSW: The start of the NRL season tonight kicks off another eight months of high profile coverage for a number of retailers and brands in the retail consumer electronics industry. For some, it’s another season in a long partnership, whilst there are a couple of newcomers eager for their first taste of prime time rugby league action.

All the fun and games commence tonight in Sydney when the Roosters host the South Sydney Rabbitohs. This is the third year in a row that De’Longhi has graced the famous cardinal and myrtle strip, and the first time that Kenwood has appeared on the playing strip.

Up across the Tweed, the Brisbane Broncos start their campaign with a ‘local derby’ against the North Queensland Cowboys. WOW Sight & Sound has given up their naming rights sponsorship of the Broncos (to NRMA), but the Queensland-based retailer is still active with the club, now as a ‘Platinum Sponsor’.

On Saturday afternoon, the Gold Coast Titans, with Harvey Norman as a ‘Gold Sponsor’, will start their campaign with a loss to defending premier St George Illawarra, before the Vodafone New Zealand Warriors take on the Parramatta Eels. No doubt the Warriors will hoping their defence has better coverage than their sponsor’s network.

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On Sunday, the Hisense Cronulla Sharks will be travelling to Canberra to take on the Raiders. Whilst not sponsored by any brands or CE retailers, the Raiders are sponsored by Dickson Tradies, which is one of the best licensed establishments in Australia.

Then, in the Channel Nine TV match, the Penrith Panthers will celebrate a record decade with Sanyo as their major partner. This is the longest standing sponsorship in rugby league. Sanyo is also a major partner of the new Greater Western Sydney AFL team, which indicates the brand knows precisely the market it is targeting.

Finally, on Monday night, the Jaycar Bulldogs take on the Wests Tigers. The Bulldogs are also sponsored by Harvey Norman and Doltone House, the latter of which hosts virtually every PR event hosted by a CE company. The Tigers defence against internet bulldogs is again provided by Trend Micro.

All in all, the CE industry provides a lot of support to rugby league clubs in Australia. After a torrid history of off-field incidents, all these brands will be hoping for a year with only positive coverage.