The latest Roy Morgan Research, for 2013, shows that the AFL is the most-watched-on-TV sport in Australia – 7.83 million Australians (41.0%) say they watch the AFL almost always or occasionally on TV, just ahead of cricket – 7.43 million (38.9%). The nearest local challengers are tennis – 6.83 million Australians (35.8%), the NRL – 6.73 million (35.3%) and horse racing – 6.32 million (33.1%).
Soccer registered 4.01 million (21.0%) viewers and Rugby Union pulled 3.53 million (18.5%).
Local V8 Supercars have the edge in motor sports – watched by 4.65 million Australians (24.3%) compared to 2.89 million (15.1%) who watch Formula One. Both are contested weekend at Albert Park however it is interesting to consider what the real impact is for Melbourne marketing. Other motor sports are well behind the two leaders with 1.79 million (9.4%) watching Motorcycle racing (including the MotoGP), 1.15 million (6.0%) watching Rally car racing and 1.10 million (5.8%) watching Drag racing.
The Australian Tennis Open plugs Melbourne as well as Formula One and these must represent value in terms of international profile. According to Victorian Premier Denis Napthine, "Four hundred and fifty million people around the world are watching the Formula One Grand Prix here in Melbourne." But this seems to stretch the imagination. Most other estimates suggest 25-50million is more accurate. Of course, its a good stroy and not really verifiable. By comparison, the FIFA World Cup, the Olympics Opening Ceremony and Super Bowl each claim a far lesser audience than 450 million.
By comparison, in Australia the 2012 summer Olympics registered 9.2 million viewers and the Sochi Winter Olympics 7.3 million.
Source of data: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), October 2012 – September 2013 (n=49,846).