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Racing industry punting on renewed interest with The Everest

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source Australia, Jul 2014-Jun 2019, n=15,867 & Jul 2018-Jun 2019, n=14,383. Base: Australians aged 14+.
New research from Roy Morgan shows horse racing is battling a significant decline in interest from Australians, with just over 5.2 million people, or 25% of the 14+ population, watching horse racing on TV — a drop of nearly 700,000 since 2015.

The Melbourne Cup clearly stands out as the linchpin supporting interest in horse racing in this country, with almost 5.1 million Australians watching the race broadcast. A full 98% of Australians who watch any type of horse racing on TV watch the Melbourne Cup.

The addition of Australia’s richest turf race, The Everest, to the racing calendar in 2017 has attracted a significant audience, over 750,000, but has yet to reverse the overall decline in TV viewership.

This year for the first time, The Everest is being held at Sydney’s Royal Randwick race course on the same day the Caulfield Cup takes place in Melbourne. But the Caulfield Cup was first run in 1879 and has a big audience head-start on its northern rival, drawing more than 1.7 million TV viewers.

These are the latest findings from the Roy Morgan Single Source survey, derived from in-depth face-to-face interviews with over 50,000 Australians each year in their homes.

“Australians are increasingly turning to other entertainment choices at the expense of horse racing,” says Roy Morgan CEO Michele Levine. “Only a quarter of Australians are now watching any type of horse racing on TV, down from over 30% just four years ago. Perhaps the biggest concern for the industry is that interest in horse racing is relatively shallow and event specific. Only 10% of Australians watch any type of horse racing on TV outside the Melbourne Cup.”

Levine notes there are important factors that appear to account for the waning interest in the sport: “Roy Morgan measures Trust and, critically, Distrust across a range of industries, including 18 key sports. Even before the effect of last week’s high-profile animal cruelty charges can be quantified, the results for horse racing don’t tell a positive story.

“Horse racing has the fourth highest level of Distrust of the 18 key sports measured. The detailed responses we received about why people felt this way highlighted key themes revolving around the influence of gambling on the integrity of the sport. Gambling brings in related issues such as corruption, using doping to rig results and the harm of gambling to society more widely. In addition, time will tell whether the very disturbing footage of the fate of 'surplus' racehorses aired on ABC TVs 7.30 this week affects audiences for race coverage.

"Roy Morgan will be releasing a detailed qualitative and quantitative Risk Report examining distrust of these 18 key sports in the next few weeks.”


The majority of horse racing fans are aged 50+

A closer look at the 5.2 million Australians who still watch horse racing on TV shows an ageing demographic, with a third aged 65+ years old and less than a fifth under 35. The gender split is fairly even, although men slightly outnumber women.

The quintessential horse racing fan is likely to be a man who forms part of the Roy Morgan Values Segment – Traditional Family Life: ‘With their children grown, these couples focus is on re-building their relationship with one another and finding time to do things they never could while their children were growing up.’

He has something of a patriotic streak and is more likely than others to ‘try to buy Australian made products as often as possible’, ‘like to take holidays within Australia’ and agree ‘the Australian economy appears to be improving.’


TV viewership of Horse Racing and leading Horse Racing events (2019 vs. 2015)

TV Viewership of Horse Racing and major Horse Racing events

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source Australia, Jul 2014-Jun 2019, n=15,867 & Jul 2018-Jun 2019, n=14,383. Base: Australians aged 14+.


Michele Levine, CEO Roy Morgan, says:

“Like many sports, horse racing faces significant challenges in appealing to younger generations that have grown up surrounded by an expanding choice of entertainment options.

“There’s only a limited amount of time available for consumers to participate in different activities and with the ease of access to digital services, traditional sports are being forced to work harder to drive interest and engagement.

“Roy Morgan’s ability to delve into what drives consumers to spend their time and money on a given activity provides stakeholders with unrivalled insights into how to appeal to new audiences.”

For more in-depth analysis view a profile of those who watch horse racing on TV including premier races the Melbourne Cup, Caulfield Cup, The Everest and the Golden Slipper as well as horse racing spectators and the various Roy Morgan Gambling Currency Reports including for Betting and Gambling online.

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