The Australian Open is off to a nightmare start for the host broadcaster after the ratings from the opening night were released.
Channel 9 were dealt a nightmare card on Monday when Australian superstar Nick Kyrgios was forced to withdraw due to injury.
The bombshell news once again divided opinions among the tennis community with one half echoing a similar sentiment to that of Kyrgios’ heartbreak, the other half lauded the news and believed the Australian Open is better off without him playing.
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Channel 9 sits comfortably inside the first camp. The loss of Kyrgios, whether you love or hate him, is as damning as it gets.
The 27-year-old is the biggest box office drawcard on the face of the planet for tennis.
Fans young and old tune in to catch a glimpse of the Canberra native and everything that comes with his matches.
But without him taking the court in both singles and doubles is arguably the biggest blow to the Australian Open and Channel 9.
Monday’s figures amplified that with the opening night session pulling in an average 357,000 viewers across the five city metro regions. More than 100,00 less than Channel 7’s Home and Away.
In the 18-49 demographic the night session came in behind Channel 10’s The Bachelors. Monday night’s opening night session peaked at 539,000 viewers.
The numbers pale in comparison to last year’s opening night session when a staggering 635,000 averages viewers tuned in across the metro regions.
Last year’s opening night which included Ash Barty peaked at 886,000 viewers.
You wouldn’t have picked a lack of interest from the number of fans who flooded through the gates on the opening day, eclipsing both day and night records as the highest attendance for day one was recorded.
On Monday 49,274 fans strolled around Melbourne Park, edging out the record set in 2015 (49,041).
The night session saw 28,670 fans through the gates, beating the 2017 mark (24,557) with the total figure coming in at 77,944. A new record over the figure set in 2017 (72,424).
But it’s the television figures that will be giving executives at Nine nightmares, especially after they forked out hundreds of millions of dollars for the broadcast rights.
Nine splashed $500 million to extend their Australian Open deal until 2030, but without the biggest drawcard it’s left them in a dire situation.
The host broadcaster will be sweating bullets with fears looming Serbian superstar Novak Djokovic could pull the pin on his campaign before it begins on Tuesday night.
But it’s not just the tennis ratings which will be heavily impacted by the loss of some of the biggest names in the game.
Channel 9 use the Australian Open coverage to roll out their upcoming shows to the millions of eyeballs that are tuning in.
Ads spruiking shows like Married at First Sight and The Block are often jam-packed in between games to capture viewers’ attention.
With the numbers expected to take an almighty hit those shows could feel the impact when they go to air in 2023.