Seven is unlikely to regain the ground it lost with Australian Open audiences last year as the ‘tennis gods aren’t smiling’ on the network.
A combination of extreme heat and tough draws, which have seen local crowd pullers such as Lleyton Hewitt and Bernard Tomic bow out in the tournament’s first two days, will keep audiences down, according to media analyst Steve Allen.
“The tennis gods aren’t really smiling on Seven, they aren’t frowning but they are not really smiling,” Allen, principal at Fusion Strategy, told B&T.
Viewers for day one of the Open this year were down 31% on 2012’s result with just 858,000 tuning in to the 2014 opener.
Allen believes the drop has more to do with the fact that Lleyton Hewitt played on opening day last year. Audiences did punch through the million mark last night (1.060) when Hewitt lost to Andreas Seppi.
Last year, Seven’s broadcast of the Australian Open suffered a double digit drop of 13.24% in peak viewers compared to the previous year. Day dropped by 3.35% and late night broadcasts experienced a 14.69% decline.
Allen does not believe Seven will recover that ground this year.
“We don’t expect the audiences to increase this year overall,” he said.
“We think there is a chance that the late night matches will increase…we think a number of matches are going to be pushed into the evening because we think players will become quite agitated [due to the heat].”
He also said the draw is not quite as strong as last year.
Last year, Seven was criticised for inundating Australian Open viewers with too much cross-promotion.
Allen told B&T last year that Seven had “overcooked it” with their “wall of cross promotion” for My Kitchen Rules.
He believes the promotions will be “more carefully handled” this year and instead took aim at Nine’s cricket broadcasts.
“One has to say that Channel Nine is a mimic of Seven,” Allen said.
“Over promotion, commentators who have no place to comment on programs promoting them as if they were experts. Nine are fearfully close to overdoing it in the cricket this year.”