The NRL has revealed that the biggest opening game audience in State of Origin Series history – a combined metropolitan and regional audience of 4.058 million viewers – watched New South Wales secure a 12-8 victory over Queensland at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday in the 100th State of Origin game between the two sides.
The match, which was broadcast on the Nine, WIN and NBN Networks, was the highest rating show on Australian television so far in 2014, and it was the most-watched series opener in Origin history (up from 3.972m in 2013).
It was also the third most-watched Origin match all of all time, after the 2013 and 2012 series deciders, while it attracted the biggest ever Sydney audience of 1.228 million (up 6% from 1.158m in 2013).
The game also achieved the highest network share of the year (44.6% across the 5 City Metro audiences of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth).
“This was a special night in Origin history and the players deserve congratulations for the spectacle they provided for the fans at Suncorp Stadium and the millions of viewers around the world,” said NRL Chief Executive Dave Smith.
“I also wish to thank the Nine Network’s Wide World of Sports for their world-class broadcast.
“The opener to the telecast was simply brilliant and set the stage for one of the classic Origin games.
“Like every other Rugby League fan, I can’t wait for Game II in Sydney.”
The match recorded an audience of 2.596 million viewers across the 5 City Metro market (up from 2.522m in 2013).
It recorded an average audience of 747,000 in Brisbane, with a peak of 810,00, and achieved the largest regional Queensland audience ever (563,584), up 14% on Game 1 in 2013.
It also achieved the biggest Adelaide audience for an opening match of the series (86,000), up 4% on 2013, while also achieving the biggest Victorian regional audience for a series opener (118,083, up 10% from Game 1 last year) and recording an audience of 109,000 on GEM in Perth, which up 71% on Game 1 last year.
The game was also a big hit on social media.
More than six million people viewed content on the NRL’s official Origin Facebook pages, while there were 500,000 unique browsers on the NRL’s website, mobile site and official app, which is the highest one-day digital audience in NRL history.
The #ORIGIN, #UpTheBlues & #QLDER hashtags trended globally, while total Origin related tweets during the 80 minutes of the game exceeded 100,000 – a Twitter State of Origin record.
The second game of this year’s State of Origin Series will be played at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium on Wednesday, June 18, and the impact of the first game of the series is being translated into ticket sales for that game, with more than 70,000 tickets now sold after 10,000 were snapped up soon after the conclusion of the Brisbane encounter.
Blues coach Laurie Daley is urging NSW fans to get behind his team. “The boys were so courageous in Brisbane last night and I think everyone in NSW is taking great pride in their performance,” Daley said.
“But we know we will need to be even better in Sydney and our fans can make the difference.
“It is the only match we have in Sydney this year and we want to create a special atmosphere that shows everyone how much Origin means to the people of NSW.”
Want more Rugby League news and features? Subscribe to the online version of League Express newspaper and Rugby League World magazine. You can also connect with Total Rugby League on the social media platform of your choice.