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APRIL 10, 2006

Commonwealth Games "sapped" Aussie viewers' enthusiasm

According to a survey conducted in Australia, a disappointing number of people watched the Australian Grand Prix on television.

The Roy Morgan Sports Monitor found that 4.9 million Australians aged 14 and over watched the race broadcast, the lowest audience of all Melbourne's big sporting events.

The race attracted less than half the 10 million-plus audiences of the Melbourne Cup and Australian Open men's tennis final, and was well down on the nine million who watched the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony.

Only 565,000 Australians watched all of the race, compared to almost one million who watched all of the next day's AFL match between Collingwood and Adelaide.

The highest audience was in Victoria, where 40 per cent of the population watched some of the race, followed by Tasmania at 35 per cent. Fewer than 30 per cent watched in all other states.

"With the Melbourne (sic) Grand Prix's future in question these audience figures make interesting reading," pollster Gary Morgan said.

"There remains a significant challenge to marketers of the Grand Prix to increase the event's audience outside of Victoria.

"There is no doubt that the Commonwealth Games sapped the enthusiasm of Australian sports-watchers."

The telephone poll surveyed more than 650 people across Australia.