Attendance on the racetrack and TV ratings were down yesterday “for the race that stops the nation”.
The number of punters at Flemington Racecourse was at its lowest since 1995, with 81,400 heading to the Melbourne institution.
Last year, about 83,000 headed through the gates — already a drop of almost a third from 2017. In 2015, 102,000 passed through Flemington.
Betting companies including Tabcorp also reported a small decline in their day’s takings.
Tab had a $160.7 million turnover yesterday — down 5.9 per cent on last year. Its turnover on the Melbourne Cup race was down 7.8 per cent.
But the snub seems to have hurt Ten the worst, which bought the broadcasting rights to the Melbourne Cup from 2019 to 2023 for a whopping $100 million late last year.
The first of their five years fell flat with viewers with the network’s broadcast of the Melbourne Cup losing a whopping 500,000 viewers from Seven’s effort in 2018 across the five city metro market.
This year, 1.44 million metro viewers tuned in to watch the race itself, won by Vow and Declare, while 1.13 million watched the presentation.
By comparison, the 2002 broadcast reached 2.5 million Australians at its peak. It fell below 2 million viewers in 2017 and hasn’t managed to climb back up since.
Last year, people were more interested in watching The Block, the Commonwealth Games and the footy finals than the fillies.
Seven’s final Melbourne Cup last year brought in 1.836 million despite the event being marred by protests and a horse dying on the track.
In 2017, Seven managed to pull in 1.79 million across the metro market while 2016’s had 1.98 million.
In the cities, the race hasn’t managed to get more than two million Aussies to watch since 2015 — when 2.06 million tuned in to the race.
The half-a-million drop comes after the network’s coverage of the Melbourne Cup copped heat on social media, with some labelling it “absolute rubbish” as the first day of the carnival was marked with technical glitches and cringe-worthy interviews.
Racing fans lamented Bruce McAvaney’s absence from the coverage.
The veteran Melbourne Cup caller lost the gig when Ten beat long-time partner Channel 7 for the rights to screen the four-day carnival.
Many have taken to social media to call for the carnival to be returned to Seven.
If the cruelty stories didn’t kill the #melbournecup hype, channel 10’s coverage will. Terrible.
— Quickdraw McMuted (@Muted79) November 5, 2019
The Melbourne Cup was just called ‘’the big dance’’ on the television coverage.
No. No. And no.
— Megan Hustwaite (@MeganHustwaite) November 4, 2019
Others weren’t impressed with coverage in general, with one woman on Facebook calling it “absolutely terrible”.
“We get nothing but 100 per cent perfect reception everyday except for the running of the race and after interviews,” she wrote.
Ten’s coverage was fronted by Francesca Cumani, who had previously worked with Seven for its Melbourne Cup coverage.
A handful of Ten’s stars joined Cumani, including Beau Ryan, Angela Bishop, Georgia Love and Scott Tweedie.
The race was also dogged by continued allegations of animal cruelty in the industry with people saying #NupToTheCup and encouraging — and sometimes pushing — celebrities to reject the race.
Today, I said #NuptotheCup.
I have always been a strong advocate for the rights of animals to live a cruelty-free life.
— Clover Moore (@CloverMoore) November 5, 2019
Taylor Swift dropped out of performing at the Melbourne Cup days after animal rights activists flooded her social media with information about the race.
A report from ABC’s 7.30 in the days leading up to the race exposed the shocking slaughter of retired thoroughbreds after racing.
Bet Easy’s chief executive Matt Tripp said more needed to be done to encourage Aussies to embrace spring racing again.
“Turnover has decreased on each of the major race days in the Melbourne spring carnival, and that has continued on Melbourne Cup Day,” Mr Tripp told The Australian.
“There’s been a drop in the number of people having a bet on the major races themselves and this has been enough to drive down overall turnover.
“We’re keen to sit down with Racing Victoria to work out how we can bring these people back.”
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