A dead rubber and an underwhelming Sunday experiment have contributed to a nightmare television ratings disaster for broadcasters Channel Nine, with Wednesday night’s Billy Slater farewell ranking as the least viewed finale since 2003.
The home of rugby league drew in a metro audience of 1.77 million viewers – the lowest ratings of any Origin fixture since 2006 – with a further 909,000 viewers coming from regional audiences.
Overall, the 2018 series was down 14 per cent compared to last year’s – where Queensland closed out the series in a thrilling decider – while ratings were down 29 per cent in game three compared to the 2017 finale.
A slight slump was expected with the series wrapped up in Sydney, but the comparison to previous years is somewhat concerning.
The finger can’t be pointed at a lack of loyalty from Queensland fans, with viewership in both Brisbane and Sydney equally down approximately 120,000 viewers each.
The plummet comes on the back of disappointing traction in game two that was hopeful of breaking ratings records on a standalone Sunday evening fixture in the prime time slot.
The series-deciding fixture pulled in 2.09 million viewers in metro areas, compared to 2.38 million for the same game last year and 2.35 million viewers in metro areas for game one, 2018.
ARL chairman Peter Beattie inquisitively asked fans on Twitter to garner their thoughts on the trialed representative weekend that was headlined by Origin, receiving an ambivalent response on a widespread poll.
The powers that be have reportedly committed to holding the second Origin fixture on a Sunday for the foreseeable future, taking an even bigger risk by trialing it in Perth in an all-time first.
But there doesn’t appear to be room to take a gamble after this year’s mixed results, with the time difference between the eastern states another factor to consider.