2019 Melbourne Cup winning jockey Craig Williams
Jockey Craig Williams holds the Melbourne Cup. (Image: AAP/James Ross)

This year, the Melbourne Cup hardly “stopped the nation”, as it has in days gone by, as poor publicity in the wake of the 7.30 report on race horse slaughter continues to damage the industry’s standing with ordinary Australians.

As a result, Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup crowd of 81,408 was the lowest since 1995 (when Doriemus won both the Melbourne Cup and the Caulfield Cup). Gambling was also down, as was TV viewing.

The punters bet 6.9% less on the race in NSW and Victoria, while overall TAB turnover fell 5.9% on the biggest punting day of the year. That also means state governments will get less from their various gambling taxes.

TV viewing fell sharply — the official ratings showed a fall from just under 2.5 million for the 2017 and 2018 cups, on Oztam ratings data, to 1.76 million — a drop of 730,000 or just under 30%.

Now Ten says the adjusted times for the 2019 cup showed an average national audience of 1.94 million — down more than half a million viewers or more than 20%. (The 2017 and 2018 figures are not time-adjusted.)
Viewing fell in metro markets from 1.83 million in 2018 to 1.324 million (1.44 million time adjusted) — a clear fall of more than 20%.

The regional audience dipped from 701,000 in 2017 (and 653,000 in 2018) to 438,000 this year (480,000 time adjusted).

Now, these figures do not include viewing in pubs, clubs cafes and other venues. But it should be noted that Lucio’s, a top Sydney Italian eatery in the suburb of Paddington, advertised a “non-Melbourne Cup” lunch on Facebook on Tuesday.

Lucio’s is an eatery where racing people like to celebrate, while a pub in the inner Sydney suburb of Newtown (where Greens and animal rights activists are highly visible) was also promoting a non-Melbourne Cup lunch function.

Peter Fray

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