Yes, the State of Origin is worth the eye-watering TV premiums

PHD Australia's group trading director Sasko Bosilkovski digs into the data to discover if the State of Origin is worth your advertising dollar.

Few other sporting events capture and divide our nation like the State of Origin.

For all the passion and excitement that comes with following the sporting event, we assess the less glamorous factor that plays a pivotal role in shaping the State of Origin – the audience numbers, and ask, are the TV cost premiums worth it?

To answer this, let’s start with the program’s audience appeal. The State of Origin series is one of Australia’s premier sporting events – ask any NRL fan and they’ll refer to it as the sport’s greatest rivalry. When compared to other international sporting competitions, what makes it unique is the way it consistently attracts enormous TV live audience numbers across the nation.

Furthermore, despite the potential for audiences to migrate across to video-on-demand (VOD) platforms – and with Nine recently announcing that its placing further investment on its digital platform offering the main stream and accompanying four different angles – TV is still a principal medium for audiences to connect with the State of Origin series, reaching 91 percent of the population (P14+ who have watched FTA or STV in last seven days).

In fact, the best-of-three State of Origin series all accounted for the top 10 most-watched TV programs in 2017, with a competitive CPM against other sporting codes (see the below table for the top 10 2017 programs). The highly watched spectacle averaged 2.431m people across the 2017 Series and is expected to deliver similar audience numbers in 2018, given that 2016 delivered the same numbers (2.432m). Therefore, viewers will continue to congregate around TVs to watch one of sports’ greatest spectacles.

Given the number of audiences the State of Origin has drawn over the years, there is no doubt that the series will provide main sponsors with a goldmine of marketing opportunities this year.

For brands that aren’t official sponsors, it will be a fantastic opportunity to access the series with spots and dots activity, which can be used as a reach driver platform for campaigns.

Another recommendation that works really well in the US with the Super Bowl is to use purpose-built creative during the State of Origin. Just think of how much talkability the Super Bowl advertisers create around their brand and their ads in the US and all over the world.

Furthermore, there aren’t many general entertainment programs out there today that deliver the same audience numbers as the State of Origin. And you don’t need to be a sponsor to access the series like the AFL or NRL (where you need to be a sponsor to access Finals and the Grand Final to attain the same audience numbers).

To sum it all up, with record crowds, the opportunities for brands to reach broader and engaged audiences during the series are endless.

From a trader’s perspective, it’s a competitive CPM to get into a special event that reaches on average over 2.3m audiences, and the cost premiums are warranted for buying into one of Australia’s premier sporting events when compared with other sporting codes.

Sasko Bosilkovski is the group trading director at PHD Australia.


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