Blame Trump: V’landys’ take on Origin ratings shocker
Peter V'Landys says State of Origin could still be played after the NRL season in 2021, despite the series opener drawing the lowest television ratings in almost 20 years.
According to figures obtained by The Daily Telegraph, Wednesday night's incredible Origin upset produced the worst ratings for any series opener since 2001.
While Queensland defied the odds to secure an emphatic 18-14 win, the match was also the lowest rating Origin match since 2006.
The revelation comes not only as Origin's position on the rugby league calendar is hotly debated, but with the NRL preparing to negotiate its free-to-air television rights deal.
Yet despite the worrying numbers, V'landys insisted he was not going to "jump off a grandstand" nor to put a red line through the idea of Origin being played after the NRL grand final.
The ARLC Chairman said that while the TV figures were "concerning", a number of factors had impacted on the significant drop in viewers.
While Origin is traditionally played in the middle of the NRL season, the impact of COVID right across Australia this year meant moving the annual blockbuster to November.
Apart from taking place in the midst of a gripping US election, and only a day after the Melbourne Cup, V'landys said the perceived gap between the two teams had also hurt.
Prior to Origin I, NSW were the shortest-priced favourite since betting on the contest first began some 20 years ago.
"No matter what way you look at it, the figures were disappointing," V'landys said.
"But I'm not going to jump off a grandstand just yet because there were also some other factors involved.
"What we've been told by our experts is the American election had a big effect on things.
"Same with everyone expecting a NSW whitewash.
"Obviously that never eventuated - and it was great to see Queensland prove everyone wrong - but NSW were the shortest-priced favourite the series has ever seen.
"And I think the negative publicity around how Queensland would be thrashed didn't help.
"One of the areas that wasn't switched on, it was Queensland. I don't think even they thought their side would be competitive."
As a result, V'landys said the ratings would not influence his decision on whether the Origin series should be played after the regular season moving forward.
Instead, the chairman suggested the "big test" would come next Wednesday night, when NSW were playing to keep the series alive at Origin II in Sydney.
"I'll wait and take stock then," he said.
"If it doesn't rate next Wednesday then there is a matter for concern.
"If (the ratings) are disappointing we will know that having State of Origin at the end of the season isn't an option.
"But you can't base it on one game."
According to the figures, the Maroons' shock win averaged 1.6 million viewers across the metros on Wednesday, which was down significantly from the 2.2 million who tuned in for the first game of 2019.
Apart from that downturn of 27 per cent nationally, both of rugby league's most significant markets in Sydney and Brisbane were also well down year over year.
The numbers showed Brisbane was down 31 per cent, even despite the shock win, while the number of Sydneysiders tuning was also down 23 per cent.
"Which is disappointing but, as I said, there were some other factors involved," V'landys said.
"And now those reasons will all be put to the test next Wednesday.
"This year we've had no option but to run Origin at this time because we wanted to protect the integrity of the NRL competition.
"Because we were reducing the competition by six rounds, you had to give every team the chance to have their best players available at all times."
The chairman added he was also happy with Origin I as a spectacle, adding: "I spoke with one of the players this morning who said he just loved the game itself.
"He said the intensity and speed was nothing like he had ever been involved in.
"He said he can't wait for next week so that brightened me up a bit."
Originally published as Blame Trump: V'landys' take on Origin ratings shocker