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The Race That Stops (a third of) the Nation

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), July 2002 - June 2003. Average annual sample n= 54196.
Base: Australians 14+

Gai Whathouse? Around two thirds of Australians don’t watch the Melbourne Cup, with declining rates of viewership over the last decade sharpest among people under 35.

In the year to June 2013, just 1 in 3 Australians aged 14+ (34%) said they watch the Melbourne Cup on TV ‘almost always or occasionally’, down from 38% 10 years ago.

At three o’clock on the first Tuesday in November, Australians under 35 are most likely going to just keep doing whatever they were doing at 2.59pm. 16% of 14-24 year olds (down from 26% in 2003) and 25% of 25-34 year-olds (down from 35%) say they watch the Cup on TV.

Even the most avid watchers, Australians 50+, began tuning out from 2007-2011 but are now back up, with 44% watching.

Those who watch the race on TV are, naturally, more likely to know who sponsors it. In the 12 months to June 2012, 22% of Australians overall associated Emirates with the Melbourne Cup—ranging from 26% of 35-49 year-olds to just 9% of the Under-25s. Over 10 years since it sponsored the race, Foster’s is still associated with the Cup by around 5% of Australians.

In Victoria, where Cup Day is a public holiday, overall TV viewership remains above the national average at 40%, although it’s also down slightly from 43% in 2003.

George Pesutto, Media and Communications General Manager, Roy Morgan Research, says:

“The Melbourne Cup may be an iconic national sporting event but Australians—under 35 especially—are less likely now than ten years ago to watch the race on TV.

“Perhaps it should be re-dubbed as ‘the race that stops an ever-shrinking proportion of the nation while the vast majority go about their normal business’.

“It is vital for brand marketers to carefully monitor changing trends in viewership to determine if their target market is actually tuning in.”  

For comments or more information please contact:

George Pesutto, Media and Communications General Manager
Telephone: +61 (3) 9629 6888

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Click here for our Sports Viewers Profiles including the Melbourne Cup Viewers Profile.

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Roy Morgan Research is the largest independent Australian research company, with offices in each state of Australia, as well as in New Zealand, the United States and the United Kingdom. A full service research organisation specialising in omnibus and syndicated data, Roy Morgan Research has over 70 years’ experience in collecting objective, independent information on consumers.

In Australia, Roy Morgan Research is considered to be the authoritative source of information on financial behaviour, readership, voting intentions and consumer confidence. Roy Morgan Research is a specialist in recontact customised surveys which provide invaluable and effective qualitative and quantitative information regarding customers and target markets.

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size

Percentage Estimate


25% or 75%

10% or 90%

5% or 95%