Australian Open’s pre-tournament Buzz watch

Rishad Dsouza
January 22, 2022, 7:46 AM GMT+0

The Australian Open has only just begun, but thanks to Novak Djokovic’s visa controversy, there’s been no shortage of drama around the event. We take a look at the property’s Buzz score in the four Grand Slam markets (Australia, Britain, United States and France) to get an understanding of how tennis fans were reacting to the events unfolding before the tournament.

In each market, the Australian Open’s Buzz score is a net measure based on responses to two questions: “Over the past two weeks, which of the following sporting events/leagues have you heard something positive about?” and “Now which of the following have you heard something negative about?”. By calculating the difference between these two scores, we create our Buzz metric.

Djokovic announced on January 4 that he would be participating in the Australian Open on an “exemption permission” from the mandatory COVID-9 vaccination rules. And reactions around the world to those set of events varied a great deal.

The Open’s Buzz score among British tennis fans was 3.9 on January 4 but that slipped into negative figures (-0.1) by January 10. In Australia, there is a similar picture of decline in Buzz, with scores slipping from 25.2 to 23.1 on the 9th before making a fractional improvement thereafter. In both these markets, there may have been additional media attention on the topic of international sport in Australia, due to the men’s Ashes taking place simultaneously.

By contrast, tennis fans in the US were feeling more positively towards the event since January 4. The Open’s Buzz score rose from 8.2 on January 4 to 10.5 on January 6 and has remained around that level. Buzz scores among French tennis fans remained flat at around 3.8 until January 8, before picking up to 4.7 by the end of the period we looked at.

One glance across the sports news streams or a simple search with ‘Novak Djokovic’ online reveals the polarising reaction to the situation, which culminated in Djokovic being asked to leave Australia after losing a court appeal against his visa cancellation by the Australian Immigration Minister. We had run a daily survey in the UK and the US to understand how many people sat on either side of the fence on the question of whether Djokovic should be allowed to play.

Americans were split right through the middle with over a quarter of consumers saying that he should (28%) and shouldn’t be (27%) allowed to play, respectively. The rest of the population (46%) didn’t hold an opinion either way.

In a similar survey in the UK, results came out more decisively against Djokovic being allowed to participate. About two in five consumers said he “definitely” should not be allowed to participate, and an additional fifth of them said he “probably should not be allowed to play”. Only 18% of people in the UK expressed the view that he should be allowed to play.

How Djokovic’s absence affects the tournament remains to be seen. YouGov offers a suite of data tools to understand how his absence might affect the consumer perception of the tournament.

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Methodology: YouGov BrandIndex collects data on thousands of brands every day. Australian Open’s Buzz score is based on the question: “Over the past two weeks, which of the following sports events/leagues have you heard something positive about?” and “Which of the following sports events/leagues have you heard something negative about?” and delivered as a net score between –100 and + 100. Scores are based on an average daily sample size of 153 Australian, 129 French, 276 British and 187 Americans who say they watch or follow tennis regularly. Figures are based on a 6-week moving average. Learn more about BrandIndex.