Tino Fa'asuamaleaui of the Maroons (centre) celebrates with Josh Papalii (left) and Felise Kaufusi following their win in Game 1 of the 2022 State of Origin series between the New South Wales Blues and the Queensland Maroons at Accor Stadium in Sydney, Wednesday, June 8, 2022. (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts)
Celebration time for Queensland after their win last night (Image: AAP/Dan Himbrechts)

State of Origin, Game One: NSW lose 16-10 to Queensland and 2.51 million watch -- about 200,000 less than the big win by NSW a year ago (50-6), which was watched by 2.7 million and played in Townsville in the depths of a COVID lockdown.

The relative isolation and lockdown helped boost the audience. Last night’s first game of the series was the first "norm" game since 2019. The 2.5 million was OK, but should have been higher if the concept has the grip on rugby league fans the media claims. The metro audience was 1.77 million, down from 1.9 million a year ago, and regional viewers totalled 741,000 -- down from 797,000 a year ago. The Sydney audience last night was 736,000 and the Brisbane audience 625,000, both weaker than a year go -- as was the 222,000 in Melbourne.

Nine obviously won the night and will boast about the figures; total people share was 47.6% against 43.3% a year ago. Great win for Queensland, and for Nine, but it would have expected more viewers. With star players out of the NSW side, there was always a feeling the game could be close or a loss. Did that keep NSW fans away? Not from the Olympic Stadium in Sydney where it was a sell-out.