Will Novak Djokovic’s exclusion still bring in ratings for Nine? The industry’s view…

After tennis fans around the world heard that the world's #1 had his Australian visa revoked, Mumbrella asks industry leaders what their thoughts are on whether his exclusion in this year's Australian Open will affect the network's TV ratings.

“The Djokovic saga is nothing but good news for Nine,” Spinach GM, media director, Ben Willee, tells Mumbrella. “Anything that generates more attention and speculation for an event is money-can’t-buy free publicity.”

Pearman Media’s Steve Allen, agrees with Willee, admitting, “It gives Nine a massive amount of publicity, good and bad, but generally good for the telecast, because it’s highlighting an event that’s about to happen. It’s millions of dollars worth of publicity that concentrates people’s minds to say, ‘Hey, the Australian Open is happening on Nine, and you can watch it next week’”.

The industry’s take on how Novak Djokovic’s (pictured) inclusion in the Australian Open will affect Nine’s TV ratings

His second point is whether the exclusion of Djokovic would affect the ratings. “Not really,” Allen says. “Over the history of the Australian Open, what happens is when Australians get a long way in, into the second week, the quarters, and semi-finals, ratings boost.”

Allen continues: “It’s when Aussies get in. It’s not when one of the big three gets in there. Everyone expects the big three generally to get through. Both the male and female imports don’t make any meaningful difference to the ratings, and the ratings trajectory in the second week, or overall.”

“The catalyst for better ratings is how far the Aussies go,” Allen explains.

PHD Melbourne’s managing director, Simon Lawson says that there will be “huge interest” in Djokovic’s performance in the tournament (on the presumption is allowed to play), “especially in those early rounds”.

“He’s famous for his ability to endure negativity and in some ways he has sort of thrived off it. So I think people want to know how he’s responded, how this has impacted him and is it going to give him greater strength or is it going to have more of a negative impact. So I think there will be huge interest in watching Novak.”

Allen adds this has been the case for the last 20 years of the Australian Open. “Our agency looks at this constantly, because of course we are evaluating these types of things for our own clients. If a client calls me up today, what do I tell them? Well, exactly what I’ve told you.”

Hatched Media managing partner, Adrian Roeling believes that despite being “embarrassing for all” and a situation that should have been avoided, “it is unlikely to have a material impact on viewership locally and, in fact, adds to the intrigue…and for brave brands, could present a cheeky tactical advertising opportunity!”.

However, not everyone agrees that Djokovic’s exclusion in the Grand Slam would have had an affect on Nine’s ratings.

Involved Media and Active International Australia group managing director, Sarah Keith, tells Mumbrella: “If nothing else, the Novak Djokovic visa debacle has reminded people that the Australian Open is happening!

“Will it change the TV ratings? With all sporting events, there are typically three types of viewers: the diehards, the general sport fans and people who jump on a bandwagon. The visa drama has been political rather than sporting and I don’t think it will convince the bandwagon brigade to watch the tennis on TV. But I’m sure it has increased the Daily Mail’s audience numbers,” she admits.

As for Nine, a spokesperson tells Mumbrella that Djokovic’s saga has “sure created interest” amongst the sports fans in Australia.

“The Australian Open is Australia’s #1 summer sport. The world’s greatest tennis players have descended upon Melbourne for two weeks of exhilarating viewing which starts on Monday.”

Tennis Australia says it respects the decision of the Federal Court to send Djokovic packing.

As per Grand Slam rules the No.1 position in the draw has been filled by a Lucky Loser.

“We look forward to a competitive and exciting Australian Open 2022 and wish all players the best of luck,” Tennis Australia said in a statement last night.


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