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David Gyngell unmoved by calls to reschedule State of Origin

Big hitter: Last Wednesday night’s match was the most watched in Origin history.

Big hitter: Last Wednesday night’s match was the most watched in Origin history. Photo: Getty Images

State of Origin comprises 20 per cent of the game’s overall value and until an alternative is proposed that would increase revenue, the NRL should not consider altering the scheduling of Australia’s biggest sporting event.

That is the view of Channel Nine boss David Gyngell, who rejected suggestions his network was inflexible on the scheduling and said he was sympathetic to clubs who lost players because of Origin duty or had to rely on them to back up just days after the fierce contests.

‘‘I am only inflexible until I hear a better idea and I think my inflexibility can actually protect the growth of the game,’’ Gyngell said.

‘‘If it ain’t broke then don’t try to fix it. Until Channel Nine is convinced there is a better way of commercialising football for the shareholders, which are the clubs, then don’t kill the goose that laid the golden egg.’’

An increasing number of officials, coaches and players have complained this season about the impact Origin has on the stars of the game and their clubs, with attendances and ratings down for matches involving depleted teams.

But Gyngell said clubs were being compensated by the doubling of annual grants since the new $1 billion television deal began last year, and a significant reason Nine was prepared to pay so much was because of Origin.

‘‘The clubs are going to be deriving significant revenue through grants because of the impact of State of Origin and clearly they are getting some form of compensation because the grant has gone from $3 million or $4 million to $7million since Channel Nine paid its big ticket,’’ said Gyngell, a lifelong Sydney Roosters fan and former board member.

‘‘State of Origin is part and parcel of the doubling of fees that we paid and it has grown 20 or 30per cent over the last decade in its impact on ratings. It is now the biggest television event in Australia, it is bigger than the [NRL] grand final and bigger than the AFL grand final so, while I feel the pain of the clubs, at the same time those clubs are benefiting because of the magnitude of State of Origin.

‘‘A State of Origin match on a Wednesday night for us is like a cumulative two rounds of rugby league. It is like six games combined when you look at the ratings.’’

With last Wednesday night’s match being the most watched in Origin history after attracting an Australian audience of 4.193 million, and the series opener being the second highest rating television show of the year, Gyngell said the concept was getting bigger.

Increased ticket prices for sell-out matches in Brisbane and Sydney have also boosted the game’s coffers by more than $10million.

‘‘State of Origin is worth probably 20 per cent of the value of the whole of rugby league when you go through the maths of gates and TV,’’ Gyngell said. ‘‘You have got to take your hat off to [NRL chief executive] Dave Smith and his team. When you own the biggest sporting event in Australia, you have got to treat it with kid gloves.’’

Gyngell acknowledged there had to be a ‘‘balancing act’’ between the demands of Origin and player welfare issues, and said he was willing to listen to any proposal that would benefit the game provided Nine was able to televise a match each Friday night and Sunday afternoon and Fox Sports had a game to broadcast on Saturday and Monday night. He was not totally opposed to Sunday night matches if Origin was played on stand-alone weekends but doesn’t agree with Newcastle coach Wayne Bennett’s proposal to play the series on consecutive Wednesday nights.

24 comments so far

  • Two Sunday origins on stand alone weekends- no dead rubber game. And if a third is required play it on a full round that way only one round is without stars. Too compensate for possibly losing a third origin game the real competition has a best of three grand final - again no dead rubber. I'm an eels fan and I would have loved to see manly and the roosters go around again last year. The added bonus is that an injured or suspended player may still play a part in a premiership as the squad would be fully needed in a best of three series.
    C'mon get on board - even the NBA play best of eight.

    French international
    Date and time
    June 23, 2014, 10:31PM
    • Thankfully, you are not in a position of power in the NRL

      Date and time
      June 24, 2014, 9:42AM
  • SOO "is now the biggest television event in Australia" :-))))))
    Oh, please, David - no wonder you are so inflexible. SOO only rates highly on the eastern seaboard. For the other half of the nation it is an interesting sports novelty - even for those who think League is too brutal.
    So come down to earth & listen to the people who actually support NRL.

    Date and time
    June 24, 2014, 1:28AM
    • Guyfox don't you realise that the eastern seaboard has 90% of the add watching and dollar spending public of Australia, the rest of the place just doesn't count.

      Date and time
      June 24, 2014, 10:40AM
    • As per ratings it is. Have you ever noticed how most of Australia's population is on the east coast. And now Perth is full of kiwis it wont be to far behind. But at the end of the day you cant beat the numbers.

      Date and time
      June 24, 2014, 10:51AM
    • Sorry Guyfox but League is big in WA, which is why they play NRL games there every season and why they still filed a team in the SG Ball Cup. Remember, until Fox destroyed the NSWRL, there were teams from both Adelaide and Perth who had solid supporter bases. In any event, the Eastern Seaboard is about 80% of the country's population; that's where you make your big bucks from ratings so that's the only place it needs to rate to attract the advertising revenue that funds it all.

      Date and time
      June 25, 2014, 12:04PM
  • If clubs are so concerned about losing their origin players they should just release them from their contracts. I'm sure other clubs will be happy to take on the "burden" of having a Smith, Cronkite, Slater, Haynes or Inglis available for most of the season. Clubs pay these players from the grant given to them by the NRL which is made possible by the huge TV deal which is made possible through the ratings of Origin.

    Date and time
    June 24, 2014, 6:59AM
    • See how you feel when your teams best player is out for the rest of the season due to a State of Origin injury.

      Baz Zinga
      Date and time
      June 24, 2014, 12:38PM
    • and the only reason origin exists is because regular clubs week in week out have games. try drumming up interest in a game when nobody has hears of the people playing...

      Tired Camel
      Date and time
      June 26, 2014, 3:28PM
  • Channell nine doesn't care because it paid so much for the rights to League it hasn't got any money for anything else apart from The big bang theory. Channel nine will drag out the start of the game and the half time to maximise the ads it can squeeze in. A sport is in big danger when the biggest game and the game all players want to play in is a state game. International League is dead.

    Date and time
    June 24, 2014, 8:44AM

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