AUDIENCE GAINS across the full season highlight a strong year for the Supercars TV product that, despite the drama (or perhaps because of it), sits as one of the few sports to actually increase their TV audience in 2019.
WORDS: Richard Craill IMAGES: Mark Walker.
A WIN over the first Cricket test against Pakistan has highlighted a season where Supercars were able to grow their TV audience by eight per cent, compared to 2018.
Despite being all but a dead-rubber, the final race of the championship from Newcastle drew 424,000 on Channel 10 and Fox Sports 506 and while it didn’t out-rate the Cricket on free-to-air, it did on the subscription broadcaster.
222,000 saw the final race of the year on 506, beating the 181,000 watching the Cricket on 501 as Australia tried to close out the Pakistan team without having to bat for a second time.
That result caps off a successful year for the Foxtel – Supercars relationship which has posted a double-digit audience increase this year.
The lack of a title decider (few outside the teams themselves really buy into the teams title fight), however, did hurt Newcastle’s ratings overall with both days down on the same event last year.
Saturday (down 32%) and Sunday (down 25%) were both much softer than the climatic season decider last year, proving that a title fight that goes down to the wire is good for business.
While Fox Sports’ Newcastle numbers were moderately down on 2018, Channel 10’s were notably smaller as they competed with the Cricket on Channel 7 for the more casual audience on free-to-air.
Sunday’s finale’ drew 202,000 on Channel 10, against 450,000 viewing the third and final session of the Cricket on 7.
DESPITE the soft end to the season, 2019 represented a significant jump in audiences viewing Supercars races on TV this year, especially on Fox Sports.
Of the 34 races or sessions we tracked this year, 24 of them were up on the equivalent race in 2018; 17 of them by more than 10%.
The 2019 season of 32 Championship races, plus Bathurst qualifying and the top-10 Shootout, drew 10.17 million TV viewers across Channel 10 and Fox Sports, up 8.2% on 2018’s 9.39 million.
57% of the total audience (5.8m) viewed on Fox Sports with the remaining 43% (4.3m) on Channel 10.
Notably, Supercars share of the subscription audience is significantly larger than both the AFL (37%) and NRL (approx. 50%), showing a dedicated fanbase that has made the switch to pay-TV.
The average audience was 299,100 per race, also up 8% from the 276,000 recorded in 2018.
That Supercars’ ratings are up are significant given the AFL (flat) and the NRL (down 7%) both had less than strong years. Other sports like Rugby Union and the A-League are down even further.
Fox Sports’ Supercars numbers climbed a substantial 12% on 2018 to an average of 171,900 per race.
It is one of the few sports to show meaningful growth on the pay-tv provider with both the NRL and AFL seemingly losing audiences, either in general or to their streaming platform, Kayo.
That Supercars numbers have actually increased this year will be of keen interest to those in the sport who are in the process of negotiations for the next TV deal – and may even protect the sport from any belt-tightening that others are expected to cop when their next deals are sorted.
(As always, Kayo or streaming numbers are not made available and as such, are not included in this wrap).
24 of the 34 sessions we recorded statistics for this year (32 races, two qualifiers at Bathurst) showed improved audiences on Fox Sports, including 13 out of 19 races the broadcaster showed exclusively.
Of those races, Race 13 at Winton was up 30% year-on-year, Race 8 from Tasmania up 24%, Race 16 at Darwin up 23% and Race 7 from Symmons Plains up 20%.
Channel 10 showed one additional race this year compared to 2018; adding the pair of Perth Night races to their slate, but dropping their Saturday coverage from the Sandown 500 due to their Spring Racing Carnival commitments.
While their total audience was larger as a result, their average race audience dropped slightly – to the tune of 3% – to 288,600 per race.
However, the Perth numbers were solid against prime-time winter ball sports, Bathurst was up comfortably on 2018, as were Adelaide and the Grand Prix coverage in March.
Predictably and as we reported on in October, Bathurst drew the largest audience of the year on both Fox Sports and Channel 10 with the Shootout that same weekend the second most-watched session of the year.
The second leg of the Adelaide 500, Sunday’s race at the Grand Prix and the Sunday Gold Coast showdown were the next most-watched, each of them pulling over 500,000 on Fox and 10.
The Sandown 500 was up 25% on 2018 and the sixth most-watched race of the year while the free-to-air component helped the pair of Perth night races; the Saturday race 7th and the Friday night show 11th.
With Newcastle’s season finale 8th, the Saturday races from the Gold Coast (9th) and Adelaide (10th) completed the list of the 10 most watched races of the year – each of them shown on both free-to-air and Fox Sports.
The most watched Fox Sports-only race was the Sunday show from Symmons Plains at 199,000.
THE 10 MOST WATCHED RACES:
|4||VASC R6||Sunday||GRAND PRIX||567,000|
|5||VASC R27||Sunday||GOLD COAST||503,000|
|7||VASC R12||Saturday Night||PERTH||444,000|
|9||VASC R26||Saturday||GOLD COAST||419,000|
Ratings Watch Archive – Click Here
SOURCES: TV Tonight, Mediaweek, TV Black Box.
(NOTE: Numbers are overnight metro (5 capital city) and Foxtel ratings supplied by ratings agency OzTam to media outlets. They do not include any additional reporting, including time shifted content, regional ratings or broader reach, unless released by the sport. They also do not include streaming numbers on Kayo or SuperView, etc).