Friday, July 27th, 2012 - Roy Morgan Research
The Summer Olympic Games is the most popular sport on television, with more than 8.24 million (44.2%) Australians aged 14+ reporting that they almost always or occasionally watch this television sporting event, according to Roy Morgan Single Source data for the 12 months to March 2012.
Rounding out the top five most popular sports on television are: Commonwealth Games (8.05m), followed by AFL (7.48m), Tennis (6.84m) and the Winter Olympic Games (6.76m).

Most popular sports watched on television – Australians 14+

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source, April 2011 – March 2012 (n = 19,641).Note: ‘Total AFL’ comprises regular home & away season, the finals period and the Grand Final; ‘Total Tennis’ includes the Australian Open.

Behind these, the remainder of the top 10 most popular television sports includes: Cricket (One Day and Test matches), NRL, the Melbourne Cup, Cycling (including Tour de France) and Bathurst 1000.

Two out of the top five sports – AFL and Tennis – are based on annual competitions. In fact, Tennis and AFL are the only sports in the top five for which events take place more often than every four years, unlike either of the Olympics or the Commonwealth Games.

The popularity of Tennis as a television sport is largely driven by one competition: the Australian Open, about which nearly 6.7 million Australians 14+ say they watch almost always/occasionally, compared to 3.2 million for all other Tennis.

The total television audience of each Tennis and Summer Olympic Games has an exact 50/50 male/female split.  The AFL’s total television audience skews to men (i.e. nearly 59% of all AFL viewers are men), while the television audiences of the Commonwealth Games and Winter Olympics show a slight female skew.

Most popular sports watched on television: audience gender profiles

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source, April 2011 – March 2012 (n = 19,641).Note: ‘Total AFL’ comprises regular home & away season, the finals period and the Grand Final; ‘Total Tennis’ includes the Australian Open.

The data suggests that big, global events that are held relatively infrequently and that appeal to both men and women alike are the key common elements of the majority of the top five most popular sports on Australian television.

George Pesutto, General Manager – Media & Communications, Roy Morgan Research says:
“Given Australians’ love of sport, it’s not surprising that the biggest events also attract the biggest television audiences.  The Olympics and Commonwealth Games possess the variety to provide universal appeal and clearly do well to build anticipation and in turn draw the largest audiences.

“With the London 2012 Olympics just around the corner, we’re reminded that the Summer Olympic Games really is the biggest sporting event on TV.  For advertisers wanting to reach massive audiences, the Olympics can offer probably one of the best opportunities to do so.”


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

In Australia, Roy Morgan Research is considered to be the authoritative source of information on financial behaviour, readership, voting intentions and consumer confidence. Roy Morgan Research is a specialist in recontact customised surveys which provide invaluable and effective qualitative and quantitative information regarding customers and target markets.
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Olympics, Sport, TV, Viewers, Fans



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