Nine network smashes ratings record

Wally Lewis and Darren Lockyer standing on a rugby league field

After more than two decades of bringing State of Origin to television screens around Australia - and the world - the process could get a little routine. However for the team at Nine Network every series is an opportunity to start with a fresh slate.

As diehard fans gather around the television for rugby league's three epic grudge matches each year, the pressure is on to produce a telecast worthy of the event. 

For 26 years Nine Network has been the State of Origin Series broadcast partner, broadcasting live and free across the nation, with the popularity of the series building momentum year on year. Game One of the 2016 series was the highest rating State of Origin match ever, with 4.423 million viewers. In fact the 2016 series delivered the three highest rating programs of the year, with a staggering 9.904 million viewers watching the games.

Despite the guaranteed hype that surrounds State of Origin, the Nine Network team is aware of the need to keep innovating for a television audience that is increasingly demanding. For all televised sports the goal is to produce a telecast that is even better than being at the match. With more close ups, more camera angles, more behind the scenes action; as well as an expert commentary team which included Yvonne Sampson, the first woman to host both the State of Origin and a major sporting event in Australian history.

This season’s record State of Origin ratings are a reflection of the network's commitment to pulling out all stops to cover Australia’s greatest sporting rivalry. Recent innovations have included the use of Spider Cam, the most manoeuvrable aerial camera in sports today. With the ability to capture all of the action from directly above the players, the camera gives the viewer a better feel for the game.

“Cameras like Spider Cam have definitely added a new dimension to the telecast, because they bring the audience closer to the action by taking you to places normal cameras can’t get to,” said Ben Clarke, Nine Network Senior Producer for the NRL.

Word has it they are also investigating the possible use of virtual technology in the future which would bring yet another dimension to the telecast.

With 2019 marking the start of a new five year State of Origin cycle, Nine is excited about the changes ahead with games to be played in new cities attracting new audiences. Game Two of the 2019 Origin series will be played in Perth, which is a first for the NRL.

Since 2010 Stage and Screen has worked with the Nine Network to get their specialist commentary team and crew to the games wherever they are held.

When Game Two was held at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane this year, a production and commentary crew of around 127 people was required to deliver the State of Origin coverage. Stage and Screen managed flights, accommodation and car hire for upwards of 60 people. Specialist camera gear was amongst the precious cargo travelling north, making State of Origin one of the biggest jobs of the year for Stage and Screen.


  • Ray Warren has not missed a State of Origin game since 1989, calling 83 games in total. He officially started commenting in 1966.
  • The commentators in the box on game day have 83 years collective experience between them, being Ray Warren, Phil Gould, Peter Sterling and Paul Vautin.
  • The pre-game, half time and post-match commentators have 129 years collective experience working on the State of Origin broadcast coverage for Nine’s Wide World Of Sports.
  • To bring a typical game to the screen the network relies on 25 cameras - including three camera decks, cameras on each corner of the field, two steadicams, one roving camera, two coach cameras, one jib, one News camera, four for the Studio Panel, two in the Dressing Rooms, two End-ons and one spider cam.
When Stage and Screen was appointed as the new preferred travel management provider for SANZAAR, the race to beat the opening season whistle began.