The 2019 Australian Open, which achieved a record attendance of 796,435 at Melbourne Park during the tournament, also delivered record viewership numbers in Japan during Osaka’s women’s final win.
For the third time in the tournament’s history, attendance in the first week surpassed 500,000 fans with 537,262 attendees, beating last year’s record of 505,443 during the event’s first week.
Saturday attendance on the middle weekend of the tournament was the busiest of any day/night in tournament history, with 93,178 fans on-site at Melbourne Park
Other events saw six Fitbit Cardio Tennis showcases take place across the tournament while ANZ Tennis Hot Shots Day saw 5,488 children attend the event.
However, Osaka’s historic win over Petra Kvitova attracted a TV audience of more than 20 million in Japan alone, with official ratings confirming the women’s final was the most-watched program in Japan during the Australian Open, and one of the most watched telecasts in recent times.
With an average viewership of 24.00 TV household rating points on NHK alone, the last 75 minutes on NHK-1 averaged 32.30 rating points and dominated with a record 45% market share.
The peak minute, at 8:29 pm local Japan time, coincided with Osaka’s speech at the trophy presentation and reached a 38.50 rating point, or circa 22.5 million viewers, equivalent to almost the entire population of Australia.
In the past four years only selected World Cup matches, Winter Olympics finals, the traditional Tokyo-Hakone relay race and NHK’s annual singing contest Kuhaku have had higher viewership in Japan than this year’s Australian Open women’s singles final.
“The Australian Open has always been very popular in Japan,” Australian Open Tournament Director, Craig Tiley said.
“Naomi also has a huge fan base, as does Kei (Nishikori) and with only a two-hour time difference the Australian Open is Japan’s ‘home’ Slam.
“Achieving a 20 million viewership on TV for any program, in this age of media disruption, is extraordinary and an indication of how passionate the fans are about their local heroes.
“With Naomi also becoming the first Japanese player ever to become World No.1, it is very rewarding to see how the support both NHK and WOWOW have given us over the years has now translated in these historic ratings.
“We look forward to building upon this success with our media, sponsorship and tourism partnerships in Japan,” Tiley said.
NHK’s Australian Open coverage this year was enhanced by live transmission – on its free-to-air terrestrial channels – of all Osaka’s and Nishikori’s matches, regardless of the time of play.
Only China, with five television broadcast partners and one, exclusive, live digital broadcast platform, has more dedicated broadcast coverage than Japan.
In Australia, Nine’s audiences for the women’s singles final peaked at 2.1 million viewers, placing Nine at number one with a 47.9% market share.
Global audiences are expected to reach record highs for 2019, including more than four million viewers in China for the women’s doubles semifinal featuring Shuai Zhang.