State of Origin is about to go state of the art.
For the first time, viewers will be able to get into the director’s chair and tailor their own Origin experience. Not content with record ratings from last year’s series, the Nine Network is looking at ways to provide more innovative coverage for the series opener on June 5. To that end, it will unveil its new Jump-In app, which allows viewers to access the multiple camera angles used by the host broadcaster.
“We’ve got an app this year that’s being launched called Jump-In, which allows people to cut their own pictures of the game, to choose what camera angles they want,” said Nine’s head of sport, Steve Crawley.
“That will allow them to use state-of-the-art technology which we trialled in the Australia-New Zealand Test this year. Everyone can be a director. They can cut their own pictures, they can go through Twitter or Facebook, get live stats.
“There will be a great number of angles you can pick from, so you can put it together how you want to. I imagine people will have a lot of fun with that.”
The 2012 series broke Origin television ratings records. The decider drew in 2.62 million viewers for the five capital cities and peaked at a national audience of 4.82 million.
Crawley was reluctant to predict another record this year but admitted it could be achievable for an event he described as the rival of America’s Super Bowl for television sporting theatre.
“It is, for sure. The emotion is akin to Super Bowl. For 80 minutes there is nothing else,” Crawley said.
“There is no better television sport than State of Origin. People that don’t normally watch rugby league watch Origin. Rugby union people or people who don’t normally watch football watch Origin.
“It rises above sport, like the way the Melbourne Cup and Super Bowl does.”
Asked if this year’s ratings were likely to be up again, Crawley said: “It definitely feels that way, but you hate predicting. The trouble with getting record numbers is that if the next year isn’t a record, people will say it wasn’t as good as last year.
“The interest seems to be there, and NSW seems to be getting closer, which is a big thing.”
The Jump-In app is not the only cutting-edge technology that will be used. Spidercam, the camera used during last summer’s coverage of the cricket, will hover above the marquee series. Using a series of pulleys and cables, Spidercam will bring a new perspective, but will be saved predominantly for replays in breaks of play.
“At the end of the day, you talk about the coverage and how many cameras and innovations there are, but the coverage is only as good as the game,” Crawley said.
“The game is the star, not the television camera.
“It’s Ray Warren’s 70th Origin calling and he’s turning 70 in two weeks’ time. He’s the greatest sports broadcaster in the world, Ray Warren, and he’s a big part of the success of this.
“Rugby league is such a great television sport because the action is so tight, brutal and magical.”
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