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Australian Open tennis viewers a different breed to those who play tennis

Australian Open tennis viewers a different breed to those who play tennis
January 18, 2017

Coinciding with the start of the Australian Open, new research from Roy Morgan reveals some striking differences between Australian who watch the event on TV and those who play the sport themselves.

Nearly one-third of Aussies aged 14 or older (32.4% or 6.4 million people) watch the Australian Open almost always or occasionally. Considering that less than half (45.1%) of Australian Open viewers tune in for other tennis broadcasts, this speaks volumes for the tournament’s popularity among the general population, who are likely drawn to the excitement of such a high-profile local event.

The Australian Open is particularly popular among people aged 50 or older, surpassing the national average with the 50-64 year-old bracket (36.3% of whom tune in to watch it) and tracking upwards to peak among the 65+ demographic at 46.3%.

Australian Open viewers vs tennis players: by age

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), October 2015-September 2016. Base: Australians 14+

In contrast, younger Aussies show a distinct lack of interest in watching the Australian Open on TV, especially 14-17 year-olds (20.2%) and 18-24 year-olds (21.8%).

Not surprisingly, given the strenuous nature of tennis, the opposite pattern applies to playing the sport. Tennis participation is at its greatest among teenagers aged 14 to 17 years (16.2%), but starts slipping from 18 years onwards. While 7.0% of Australians overall play tennis, this slips to 4.3% of 50-64 year-olds and heads steadily south from there to 2.9% of the 65-plus group: the same two age groups most likely to be glued to the box during the Australian Open next week.

Commenting on the findings, Roy Morgan Research Industry Communications Director Norman Morris explained “tennis is not gentle on the body, hence participation dropping off so sharply among the over-50s.

“But with over four of every 10 Australian Open viewers being 50 or older, it is clear that watching and playing tennis are not as strongly correlated as one might expect. This high proportion of mature viewers also has implications for advertisers and sponsors of the event, particularly brands aiming to reach an older audience.

“Obviously ... age is just one of many factors at play here: indeed, the deep consumer data contained within Roy Morgan’s Single Source allows brands to profile Australian Open viewers by variables as diverse as geographic location, gender, income and socio-economic status, attitudes to advertising, leisure activities and media consumption.

“Australian Open sponsors such as Kia, the ANZ, Coopers, Optus and Emirates clearly understand the importance of striking a chord with the event’s audience; indeed, these viewers are substantially more likely than average to associate all five brands with the tournament.

“Of course, tennis clubs and organisations wishing to encourage greater participation could also benefit from Roy Morgan data. For example, bearing in mind the sport’s global nature, it’s interesting to note how a person’s ethnic background can influence their likelihood of playing tennis and/or watching the Australian Open. Aussies born in China, India, and South Africa come in at above-average for playing the sport but below average for watching the Australian Open, while those born in mainland Europe are above average in both respects and those born in New Zealand are less likely to either watch or play. Insights such as these provide a clearer understanding of the market.” 

Main image: Geelong Lawn Tennis Club.

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