WE’RE a fractured lot these days when it comes to our viewing habits.
The days of the Sunday evening premiere movie or the weeknight drama series cliffhanger that were breathlessly discussed with colleagues at work the next day are long gone in the era of social media, streaming services, box sets and movies on demand.
There are no longer any guarantees that your colleagues were even looking at the same piece of electronic equipment the night before, let alone having a laugh at the same movie or gasping at the same twist in a long-running TV series.
While some of us are bingeing on the entire run of a lauded production that has only just been released somewhere on the other side of the world, others are reacquainting themselves with an old favourite made 25 years ago.
Still others spend their nights catching up with friends on Facebook.
It’s great for those who want to be able to choose how they entertain themselves and when they entertain themselves, but terrible for those who’d like to have a discussion the next day about what they’ve seen – and, to be honest, that’s one of the pleasures, isn’t it?
But “appointment television” (the program you watch at the same time as millions of others across the nation) isn’t completely dead. It’s being kept alive by a few hardy sporting events – one of which is rugby league’s State of Origin.
Hardcore league fans, occasional followers of the sport and even some of those with only the most basic understanding of the game will all be taking an interest on Wednesday as the third match in the series – a series already won by NSW – is played in Queensland.
A minority will want to discuss technicalities and league ephemera, but the majority will just enjoy talking about the big game because, well, everyone else is doing the same.
State of Origin is a sporting contest, a money-maker for the television network that broadcasts it and a shop window for the National Rugby League, but it’s also a cultural event, a shared experience and an entertainment appointment for people who don’t make entertainment appointments anymore.
It’s nice to do something together occasionally – even if that something is to collectively will failure on Queenslanders.