It must be TV’s biggest night coming up! Yes, indeed, Australia’s most watched – and certainly most profitable – sporting event, the annual league ding-dong between NSW and Queensland (AKA State of Origin) kicks off tomorrow night.
Proving the three-game biff-a-thon is as popular with advertisers as it is with fans comes news that the broadcaster, Channel Nine, had sold all ad spots for tomorrow night’s match as early as last weekend.
The game is expected to get a TV audience of over four million and The Australian has reported that 30-second slots are selling close to the $150,0000 mark.
Nine’s chief sales officer Michael Stephenson told The Australian: “Advertisers are investing in the platform because it will again be the most effective way to reach the biggest audience in the country on TV this year. It again shows the power of TV to deliver mass audiences and communicate brand stories.”
But, with what appears to becoming an annual ritual on the eve of the tri-series, medical experts have again called for any ads or marketing featuring alcohol to be banned.
Beer brand Victoria Bitter remains the NSW chief sponsor while the Queensland team again features XXXX Lager predominatly on its jerseys and training gear.
According to Dr Catherine Yelland, president of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, State of Origin has a large following by children and the heavy placement of liquor advertising is innappropriate. Although alcohol advertising is not permitted in Australia before 8.30pm.
Speaking to ABC news, Dr Yelland said: “In terms of broadcast numbers, the State of Origin series is Australia’s biggest television event of the year, so it is disappointing that the three games will again be dominated by alcohol sponsorship and advertising.
“Sport is very important to children and sends a lot of messages to them and while most of them are good, alcohol has become closely associated with those high-profile sports and advertising in many ways. We feel it is sending messages to children about alcohol that are not beneficial to them,” she said.
Dr Yelland stressed that she didn’t want alcohol ads banned; however, believed the saturation of booze ads during Origin time was inappropriate particualry when considering the young audience it atracts.