The Australian Open did well, again – and scored new facilities

The 2014 Australian Open attendance reached a total of 643,280 fans, notwithstanding the heat. The all-time Australian Open attendance record of 686,006 was set in 2012. Heineken Day on the middle Saturday of the tournament was the busiest of the 2014 event, with 80,219 fans on site. A first Monday day/night attendance record was set, with 63,595 people on site. Early sessions pre-sales were about 8% higher than before, numbers of walk-up ground-pass patrons were down on days two to five, meaning the aggregate crowd figure – including an estimate for the final-night attendance – was expected to be down by 7-8% on the 684,457 recorded in 2013.

For the Australian Tennis Open finals Seven's coverage of the Men's Final peaked at 3.17 million viewers and averaged 2.42 million – up 8% on the Men's Final of 2009 Open in 2009. Prior to the finals, the registered the highest free-to-air audience across five cities at 1.06 million but this was still lower than all of the top five sessions of the one-day cricket series average between Australia and England. Looking internationally, Li Na of China, an interesting 'product' of China's state sports system and now worth over $40 million, pulled a China audience of some 70 million in her win of the Women’s Final. Andy Murray's defeat by Federer was watched by 5 million on BBC1. Major sponsors Kia, ANZ Bank, and Jacobs Creek, the latter two featuring large chinese language signage, have extended their sponsorship for several years.

Tennis Australia chief executive and Open tournament director Craig Tiley said the organisation’s income from the event is derived roughly in three equal portions from ticketing, sponsorship and television broadcasting. Corporate hospitality sales are slightly down on 2013,    In 2013, total revenue reached $181 million, compared with $172 million in 2012. Revenue in the 2014 year is likely to increase about 10%. Prize money for the Open increased $3 million this year to a record $33 million, following a $4 million increase in 2013. Further prize money rises are forecast for the next three years. Tennis Australia will also receive a boost in broadcast revenue when its new agreement with Seven West Media commences. Seven agreed last year to extend its contract for another five years and will pay about $35 million annually, compared to the current $21 million.

More than 1000 broadcast media were accredited. The domestic television broadcast reached 13.6 million Australians over the tournament, with 3.1 million Australians tuning in to the men’s final.

There were more than 17 million unique visitors to throughout the tournament period. IBM has been working for some time to produce a world leading online service of tennis and competition data. IBM Real Time data provides statistical analysis of any and all aspects of the game. Their SlamTracker calculates each player’s momentum, habits, and strategies, point-by-point, as you’re watching. Using 8 years of grand slam data, SlamTracker even displays top players’ tendencies in past tournaments. Using these facts, IBM can create specific “Keys to the Game” for each player given their opponent and circumstances. As a match progresses, player performance is measured against their keys and updated live. SlamTracker also crowd sources audience sentiment through Twitter and other social media outlets.   It seems that enhanced predictive analytics will be the next step.

The Open received a further boost when Victorian Premier Denis Napthine announced the state would fund the $338 million second stage of the redevelopment of Melbourne Park precinct. The second stage includes refurbishing Rod Laver Arena, a new 5000-seat showcourt and improved access to the site. It follows the $366 million first stage, which included a roof over Margaret Court Arena. Not too bad for a non-government enterprise.

Eric Winton

Director, New Millennium Business

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