NRL loses huge battle in traditional heartland
On Monday night two scuba divers handballed a Sherrin, the kind of footy they use in the other sport, back and forth underwater.
It might not be to everyone's taste but it was cute enough that the television channels loved it so much the images went across the entire width of Queensland.
A camera then panned up to reveal a Brisbane Lions representative with the AFL premiership cup before the drone flew higher into the sky to reveal they were over the Great Barrier Reef.
Suddenly, it was magnificent.
Watch the 2020 NRL Telstra Premiership Finals on Kayo. Every game before the Grand Final Live & On-Demand with no-ad breaks during play. New to Kayo? Get your 14-day free trial & start streaming instantly >
As far as partnerships go, this one between the Queensland Government and the AFL is becoming hard to beat.
As far as promotion for the NRL in Queensland went on the same Monday, the Storm put up Dale Finucane, who has been injured and hasn't played since round 14.
He says the Storm won't be affected by Cameron Smith's decision not to reveal whether he will play on, which is a narrative as old as stone at the moment.
Two sporting codes, in a state that is supposed to be a rugby league heartland, and the other sport beating the daylights out of rugby league.
Now all this doesn't mean a hill of beans to most people until somebody stands back and looks at the big picture and how the NRL, through its own sense of entitlement, is slowly gorging itself to death.
Everyone is too busy chewing on the fat of the broadcast deal to understand a famine is coming.
The signs are there, though.
The NRL is tracking so poorly in Queensland that on Monday it announced a reduced $20 ticket in the hope of selling the remaining 13,000 seats and getting Suncorp Stadium to 75 per cent capacity.
The buffoons at the Storm, ignorant to how the AFL is dominating Queensland at the moment, or perhaps unconcerned because, let's face it, they are about winning the game, regard a 39,000 capacity as a victory.
Last Friday, ARL Commission chairman Peter V'Landys sat in front of a crowd at a Coogee Dolphins fundraiser, with two mikes in hand, and revealed how viewers are migrating away from lineal TV, like Channels 9 and 7, and how even cable TV like Fox Sports has a shelf-life of about eight more years.
Both shifts will have a catastrophic effect on broadcast fees as viewers migrate towards the streaming platforms - whose model is a revenue share, meaning the NRL will have to accept the risk that the streaming services can sell it for a sufficient amount, plus the NRL will also have to pay for its own production, which Fox Sports and Nine currently share at about $50 million a year. It adds up to a massive haircut for mainstream sport.
So the AFL, which has the same advice, is finding different ways to promote its game.
The NRL clubs are stuck in a 1980s mindset, still arguing for more money with less obligation.
"I promise you, this will change," NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo said.
"We need to think about not just incentives but consequences for the clubs that don't do it. It's the carrot and the stick."
Abdo has a hard road ahead.
Storm media manager Paul Munnings is indicative of the struggle he faces.
On the same day Storm put up Finucane, who got named in No.18, to show it wasn't a complete waste, their opponents Canberra put up the entire squad to help promote the game and hopefully sell a few of those $20 tickets.
Munnings, affectionately nicknamed Mung Bean, tried to trump Canberra's full-squad by claiming the Storm put up 10 players last Thursday but received little media interest.
It was irrelevant.
The Storm were not playing last weekend so all the interest from the NRL public was centred on the games that actually were being played, Canberra and the Roosters and South Sydney and Parramatta.
The Storm could not even talk about who they were playing.
Small examples, admittedly, but it reveals how far the NRL is behind its greatest threat, the AFL.
The AFL's decision to take the grand final to Queensland was initially a dud sell but, as they do so often, the AFL arrived in town and worked hard to turn a bad decision into a good decision.
This in a state regarded as being so important to the NRL that plans for a 17th team have been announced with the only declaration being the team will play out of Brisbane.
Yet with a Queensland treasure running out for the Storm this week, Storm captain Cameron Smith, and in what could possibly be his last ever game, the game struggles to sell a line.
Meanwhile, the AFL has employed a pyramid scheme strategy to multiply support.
"Engaging with meaningful content between games and in the lead-up to games is a no-brainer," Abdo said. "It's something we have to keep working on, the old excuses are no longer acceptable. The problem is the clubs and the coaches."