The NRL's ground-breaking return from the great sporting shutdown hasn't earned it promotion to Nine's primary channel across half the country.
NRL gets the leap on the AFL by two weeks when Brisbane and Parramatta clash at Suncorp Stadium on Thursday night, making it the first elite team competition played in Australia since March 23.
Both free to air broadcaster Nine and pay tv counterpart Fox Sports are reluctant to predict ratings but anticipate high viewership given the excitement and publicity surrounding sport's return amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Eels-Broncos clash is a natural audience-puller in any circumstances, as is Friday night's clash between neighbouring heavyweights South Sydney and Sydney Roosters.
Nine's live match cover will be shown on their main channel in NSW and Queensland, as always.
But eager sports fans elsewhere will have to go looking for it, with the matches to be shown on secondary channel GEM in Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth.
"We aim to always give options to all fans, including offering all games in HD on GEM in states outside of NSW and Queensland," a Nine spokesperson said.
"We feel it's important to keep respective channels consistent so that fans know where to find the content each and every time.
Nine has often used GEM to show major sporting events.
Last year's Cricket World Cup and Ashes were screened on the digital channel, as was the high-rating Twenty20 Women's World Cup final in March.
NRL matches are also ordinarily shown on the channel in the non-traditional rugby league states where AFL has the bigger following.
Australian Associated Press