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Seven's misleading Tennis Ratings | @7Tennis

OpinionKevin Perry

Just how many people watched Lleyton Hewitt during his final Australian Open campaign?
Photo Credit - (AAP: David Crosling) 

With the Australian Open underway this week in Melbourne, the Seven Network has been trumpeting ‘digital record’ views for its new online streaming service 7Tennis.

Day one of the online coverage achieved 550,000 total streams for 7Tennis. On day two this had increased to 581,000 and by day three it had risen significantly to 862,000. No doubt day four will be higher again. Yesterday's total streams figure declined slightly to 822,000. Many media outlets have rushed to report this data with The Australian declaring the app ‘a smash hit’.

However Seven is being highly selective in choosing the data it releases to the media.

Despite repeated requests from this website, Seven has declined to provide further information about its online coverage including average viewing times, the number of unique viewers, or a breakdown between live viewership compared with video on-demand consumption.

The big problem with the numbers released by Seven is that it includes all forms of video available via the 7Tennis service. That means it doesn’t mean matter if a user is watching hours of live tennis, a replay of an earlier game, player interviews and press conferences, or a short behind the scenes clip. It all counts towards what Seven calls ‘total streams’.

Seven is using Yahoo Analytics to monitor the performance of its tennis coverage meaning that the network precise data for telling how many online viewers are watching at any moment.

However the network has declined to provide any information regarding individual matches, or time spent watching. If a user streams coverage for 3 hours or 30 seconds its counted as a one view. If a user experiences a technical error and has to restart the stream, it’s counted as an additional view.

Ratings agency Oztam was to have commenced reporting online streaming by 2016, but this has been delayed meaning there is currently no industry standard for how online viewing figures should be reported.

Video streaming from 7Tennis is available via the website or apps on mobile and tablet devices. It can also be viewed on a TV using an Apple or Telstra TV device.

Traditional broadcast audiences for Seven’s Tennis coverage have been in gradual decline in recent years, particularly against the onslaught of Big Bash. It’s understandable why they are eager to boost their TV ratings with online data.

Every video played on 7Tennis is preceded by a 15 second pre-roll advertisement. Seven is also charging advertisers for further spots during the live online coverage.

Lets hope the advertisers are receiving better data from Seven than the media.