ONE of TRT’s excellent social media contributors posed the theory on Monday that the excellent Television ratings from the weekend’s NTI Townsville 500 were down to the fact that most of Sydney’s population was in lockdown.
And certainly it’s a logical argument to make when five million-plus people have little else to do but to sit at home in front of the box.
While it’s definitely a reasonable theory, the actual numbers shift so much that it’s hard to see if there is a tangible increase when a city is locked down or not.
TRT looked back through our data charting some of the key races shown on free-to-air in recent years, to see where Supercars audiences come from and if being locked at home does cause an audience to spike in any given capital city.
The results were interesting, if far from conclusive.
Last weekend, 44% of the Saturday audience watching on Channel Seven came from Sydney’s suburban areas, while that dropped to 36% on Sunday.
Those numbers do seem high, but cast your mind back to the Mount Panorama 500 in February, when Sydneysiders were very much free to do whatever they wished with their weekends, and the numbers were very similar: 30% of the Saturday audience came from the harbour city and 36% on Sunday – the same as Townsville.
So while there was an increase between the two rounds, it’s not enough to firmly show that it was as a result of people being locked down or otherwise.
Interestingly, while Sydney and Melbourne’s share of the market dropped substantially on Sunday, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth all took big leaps forward.
Adelaide, for example, made up just 6% of Saturday’s Channel Seven audience but a much more substantial 15% on Sunday. Perth’s audiences also ballooned on Sunday, climbing from 4% to 11% of the total audience.
What is interesting is that Brisbane seems the biggest contributor, at least per capita, to Supercars’ TV audience this year – at least in our small sample size so far.
More people watched Sunday’s race in Brisbane than they did in the Victorian capital, and that’s despite Melbourne having almost three million more people in their metro area.
A whopping 22% of the total audience on Sunday came from the Queensland capital while just 16% came from Melbourne, which on a per capita basis was smashed by Adelaide and Perth, too.
There is also some evidence to suggest that parochialism counts to a motorsport TV audience, much in the way that more people in Adelaide are likely to watch the Crows play on TV than they are the Bombers, for example.
Looking back at the 2019 Australian Grand Prix, a mammoth 48% of Channel 10’s free-to-air audience watched from Melbourne, despite there already being 120,000 at the circuit to watch it live.
The same can be said for the 2020 Adelaide 500, the Sunday race of which drew 22% of its audience from Adelaide – meaning more people per capita watched the race in the South Aussie capital than any other city.
While not relevant to our lockdown topic, it is interesting to note how audiences bloom when there is a local interest involved.
TV ratings are a fickle business and can be influenced by many external factors – school holidays, other sports, other events and so on.
While it’s impossible to deny that there is a potential for audiences to be impacted positively by an entire city being in lockdown, it’s also hard to confirm that it doesn’t have a role either.
So, in summary? We’re on the fence with this one..
Working full time in the motorsport industry since 2004, Richard has established himself within the group of Australia’s core motorsport broadcasters, covering the support card at the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix for Channel 10, the Bathurst 12 Hour for Channel 7 and Porsche Carrera Cup & Touring Car Masters for FOX Sports’ Supercars coverage. Pretends to be a PR guy / Journalist and sometimes photographer to make ends meet when not yelling at a television in a padded room.
You might also like!
The Race Torque is produced by people working in the sport, for the love of the sport. TRT tells the stories less told, adds insight and informed opinion about current events and adds great imagery and video content to the mix. TRT: The stories behind the sport.