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

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

Summer means tennis in Australia, and with this country’s tournament par excellence – the Australian Open – starting next week, the latest findings from Roy Morgan reveal some striking differences between Aussies 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 14-17 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.

Norman Morris, Industry Communications Director, Roy Morgan Research, says:

“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, however, 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.”

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About Roy Morgan

Roy Morgan is the largest independent Australian research company, with offices throughout Australia, as well as in Indonesia, the United States and the United Kingdom. A full service research organisation specialising in omnibus and syndicated data, Roy Morgan has over 70 years’ experience in collecting objective, independent information on consumers.

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size

Percentage Estimate


25% or 75%

10% or 90%

5% or 95%