Kick-off in Origin too late

ALONG with the sellout crowd of 52,500 at Suncorp Stadium and the almost three million estimated to watch on TV, I can't wait for Origin III on Wednesday night.

It's just a shame we have to wait so long for kick-off.

And I don't mean the three weeks between each game.

I'm talking on the night, for the actual game to start.

On its website and on the match tickets, the NRL states kick-off time as 8pm.

But if Origin II is a yardstick, it will be closer to 8.30pm.

To start proceedings at the MCG, the ball was eventually kicked off at 8.22pm.

Having spent my entire career working in the media, I understand advertising is king.

No chicken and egg theory exists in free-to-air commercial television - without the support of the corporate dollar, live sporting events just don't get to air.

And TV needs air time to slot in commercials - I get that too.

But with due respect to the superbly-produced pre-match presentation by Channel 9, do we really need all the analysis that is heaped on us?

Are the majority of viewers better educated about the game ahead when kick-off time eventually does arrive than they were before the telecast started?

And while having the respective coaches on air, live and in living colour, is a coup for Channel 9, do they actually tell us anything we don't already know?

Agreed, it provides great theatre, but is anyone better educated as a result of these interviews?

Ratings from Origin II tell us that almost one million viewers don't engage in the telecast until the game starts.

While the match itself was the most-watched TV show nationally in 2015 with 2,481,000 viewers, only 1.488 million tuned in for the pre-game show.

That means almost one million people are twiddling their thumbs - or their TV remote - waiting for the game to start.

And with only 1.055 million staying up for the post-game report, it is patently obvious fans just want the footy.

No doubt the pre-game discussion - and the commercials - is a turn-off to some.

But the great infuriation is the late kick-off.

And while I would never be so arrogant to suggest a good idea to Channel 9 executives, I will give it a crack.

If the 45-minute lead-in is where the major advertising content has to be, stay with that - but start at 6.45pm.

Surely A Current Affair can have a three-night sabbatical and 15 minutes can be chopped from the news to appease fans of your three highest-ratings shows of the year?

A 7.30pm kick-off would also enable more kids, and therefore more family units, to watch the jewel in rugby league's crown.

And surely that is the target market.


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