Novak Djokovic’s Australian Open win was a ratings flop for American TV
The US TV viewing figures are in for this year’s Australian Open final and it seems Novak Djokovic lacks the pulling power of his great rival Rafael Nadal.
Djokovic’s remarkable tenth title in Melbourne came after a sensational performance against Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas, as he drew level with Nadal at the top of the men’s Grand Slam winners’ list by claiming a 22nd major title.
He did it all while playing with a three-inch tear in his hamstring for most of the tournament, yet this historic narrative was not enough to lure in TV audiences in America.
ESPN have released their viewing figures for the final and they suggest just 439,000 viewers watched in America.
That makes the 2023 Australian Open men’s singles final the least-watched men’s final in at least a decade.
It is a figure that 36-per-cent down on the 2022 final, when Nadal defeated Daniil Medvedev in five sets (689,000).
The long-running debate over Djokovic’s global popularity has been highlighted by viewing figures for this year’s Australian Open, with his stunning triumph not proving to be a rating winner.
The American TV numbers come on the back of a big slide in viewers in Australia, although those figures need some context applied.
A year ago, Ashleigh Barty’s Australian Open win brought the country to a stand-still and there was also a thrilling win for Nick Kyrgios and his Aussie partner Thanasi Kokkinakis in the double final.
The retirements of Roger Federer and Serena Williams may also have impacted viewing figures for this year’s Australian Open, but there is no doubt that the numbers will concern TV bosses.
It also fuels the theory that while Djokovic has a passionately loyal fanbase, he does not have the global appeal of players like Federer and Nadal.
“The world of tennis is lacking TV ratings drawcards at the moment, it is in a transition phase. The drawcards who are reliable like Ash Barty, Federer, they have gone and there are very few coming through right at this moment.”
The viewing figures in Australia are contrasted by encouraging numbers in Europe, with discovery+ and Eurosport reporting huge growth in numbers on their platforms, especially in European nations like Poland and the Netherlands, as they cheered on some of their local heroes.
With tennis heading towards a transitional period as some of the game’s all-time greats come to the end of glorious careers, fluctuations in TV viewing figures are to be expected.
It also explains why the game’s authorities are reaching out to companies like Netflix to try and spread the message of the game to a new generation.
The recently releases Break Point series took viewers behind the scenes in the ATP and WTA Tours, with more episodes of the series set to drop this summer.
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