Aussie TV ratings are in (I'm still trying to find ESPN numbers). Men's final numbers are up from last year. The women's final got killed by cricket.
Cricket blamed for the great Maria Sharapova switch-off
January 30, 2008
Guts tops glamour - at least in the Australian Open tennis women's final television ratings stakes.
An average of 931,000 fans across the five Channel 7 metropolitan markets tuned in to watch circuit beauty Maria Sharapova down her equally striking opponent Ana Ivanovic 7-5, 6-3, in the Grand Slam final last Saturday.
It was a 33.89 per cent drop from last year when 1.24 million viewers hung on every ball between former world No. 1 Serena Williams and Sharapova, with the former easily triumphing in straight sets, 6-1, 6-2.
Insiders suggest tuning in was a way for fans to show their respect for the then unseeded Williams, who whipped Sharapova off the court in little more than an hour.
At the time Williams, who also took home the Melbourne crown in 2003 and 2005, had been sidelined for most of 2006.
It was at the Australian Open where she proved she was back to form, making a phenomenal 28 winners against just 11 unforced errors.
A Seven spokeswoman said the women's final results were down but overall the Grand Slam tournament ratings were up by 11 per cent.
"It's also worth bearing in mind that this (the women's final) was up against the cricket on Nine whereas in 2007 it was not," she said.
The men's final between Novak Djokovic and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga saw a changing of the guard, with the previous year featuring world No. 1 Roger Federer and Fernando Gonzalez in the final.
Ratings for the men's final were up 0.08 per cent on last year, but they were 12.43 per cent down on 2006 and 65.42 per cent down on Lleyton Hewitt's final against Marat Safin, to which an impressive 4.043 million viewers tuned in.
"The Hewitt versus Safin final in 2005 was the highest rating event or show of the past 10 years (outside the Sydney Olympic opening ceremony) before 5.5 million people tuned in over four networks for the funeral of Steve Irwin," the spokeswoman said.
In the year to date, the Australian Open has claimed eight of the top 10 rating spots for one-off events.
More night matches likely, thanks to TV
January 27, 2008
A REVIEW of the Australian Open's night-session policy is set to take place at the completion of this year's events, but it seems the power of television is likely to hold sway with yet another night session to be added to next year's schedule.
The contentious early-morning finish to the Lleyton Hewitt-Marcos Baghdatis match, which started just before midnight last Saturday night and finished at 4.33am, has brought the issue into sharp focus, but next year's Open is set to feature night sessions on every single day of the tournament.
The showpiece women's singles final match will be moved to night-time next year. The shift will mirror the move of the men's final, which first moved into television prime time in 2005, when Lleyton Hewitt's defeat at the hands of Russian star Marat Safin became the most-watched program of the year.
It will give Channel Seven, the Australian host broadcaster of the event, a full schedule of prime-time viewing where Seven's ratings have been strong. Over the past two weeks, night-time tennis has consistently rated well for the network.
Andy Roddick's third-round marathon match against German Philipp Kohlschreiber, which also finished in the early hours of the morning, was the fourth-rated show in Australia.
The international flavour of the event is also putting pressure on schedules. Serena Williams's memorable win of the women's title last year, when she was unseeded and ranked 81st, drew record ratings for women's tennis on the American sports channel ESPN.