Off the Wall

I guess Blues fans have not had much to cheer about since last night - but when it comes to being loyal TV viewers of State of Origin rugby league fans in Sydney should take a bow.

A record Sydney viewing audience for an Origin game watched - an average of 1,179,000 viewers, up 19 per cent on last year. The broadcast scored a massive 63.1 per cent of the total audience.

Numbers were down in Brisbane - and continues a worrying trend. The average audience was 824,000, and while that represents an impressive 70.8 per cent audience share, last year's average Brisbane audience was 845,000. But the decline in Brisbane free to air audience numbers evident since the season started ought to be worrying the NRL and the QRL.

The Melbourne audience was a respectable 328,000 average - in line with last year's average.

A major boost for the NRL and the ratings came from regional Queensland, NSW, Victoria and Tassie. The regional audience average was 1,154,000.

The total national audience was a record 2,455,000 - the highest since the current ratings system was introduced.  It was 133,000 above the previous record.

The all important five capital cities peak audience was also a record - 2,809,000...a significant increase on the previous record of 2,697,000 which was set way back in Game Three in 2002.

The ratings news is good news for the NRL.

These figures will be helpful when the NRL gets around to negotiating the post 2012 television rights agreement.

But they really understate just how massive the audience was.  I have noticed that Origin is going down the same way as the NRL and AFL grand finals.

More people than ever are using Origin nights to have friends around for a barbeque etc - or watch the game at functions in clubs, bars etc.

I live quite close to a major road...from around 7.30 last night the traffic was more like what you hear at 3AM in the morning.  And my friends in the takeaway food sector tell me last night was what many regard as a very tough year for business.

The record Sydney ratings ought to be worrying the AFL. It's push into Western Sydney is really about boosting its television market share, yet the AFL on free to air has been an absolute disaster this year. The news that rugby league has achieved record Origin numbers in Sydney is about as good as it gets for us...and as bad as it gets for the rival code.

So Blues fans, the scoreboard was not a good look, but the ratings board most certainly is! Well done!