It’s been a good week for Australian soccer and a not-so-good one for
the Oztam TV ratings system. First a technical glitch meant the ratings for
Monday night’s Australia/Japan clash were delayed for 24 hours, a
stuff-up that threw an unwelcome spanner in the celebrations of host
broadcaster SBS.

Now pollster Gary Morgan has done his own figures on
how many people watched the Australia/Japan game – and he says Oztam has underestimated the actual figures by more than half.

On Wednesday Oztam announced 2.89 million people tuned into the
Australia/Japan clash. Morgan says his survey reveals the audience was
actually much
closer to 7 million people, an extraordinary figure in a country with a
population of 20 million and three major competitor football codes in
League, Union and AFL.

Morgan says the huge discrepancy is due to “flawed methodology”
employed by
Oztam’s people meters which miss viewers at public venues like pubs and
clubs, younger people and hard to interview people who live in
apartments and short term rented premises. According to his figures,
which are based on a telephone survey, more than seven million
Australians (43% of Australians aged 14 and over – 49% of men and 36%
of women) watched the Socceroos’ historic World Cup 3-1
victory over Japan.

While the
number was down on the 8.5 million Australians who watched the
primetime World Cup Qualifier against Uruguay, Morgan says the number of viewers is a
late-night record considering the 11pm East Coast starting time. Viewing was highest in Western Australia with
56% watching the game which began at 9pm local time.

“With Australia’s upcoming match against Brazil
due to start at 2am Monday morning, it will be interesting to see if
viewer numbers increase again – pity the employers of Australia,” says
Morgan. “Bad luck.”

Peter Fray

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