Sunrise’s Mark Beretta defended Channel 7’s call to broadcast Nick Kyrgios’ Wimbledon match ahead of that of world No 1 Ash Barty on Tuesday night, dividing his co-stars on Wednesday.
Overnight, incensed viewers slammed the “outrageous gender bias” of the broadcaster’s exclusive 7TWO tennis coverage.
“Seven, there is something seriously wrong with your judgement,” tweeted ABC executive editor John Lyons on Tuesday night.
Anointed as the network’s fall guy, Beretta said “It was a very difficult decision” to go with No 43 Kygrios and Australian journeyman Jordan Thompson, but the match started first.
“People had been watching for two hours. At the climax of the match [are] you going to say, we’re going to Ash now?” Beretta said.
He added Seven had “flipped between” the two matches during its exclusive Wimbledon coverage, and compared cutting coverage of the men’s match to cutting off the end off a movie.
“We waited until Nick was done and then we went with Ash.”
Fox Sports showed Barty’s win over China’s Zheng Siasai live on both Foxtel and Kayo.
In a standard PR move, Sunrise co-host David Koch played the role of unhappy viewer (“don’t blame us, everyone”), and said the Barty snub had been “like cutting out Mother Theresa”.
He pushed Beretta to “guarantee we get Ash Barty all the time live from now on.”
Replied Beretta, “I think you’re a pretty good chance from now on.”
Despite that semi-promise – which The New Daily asked Seven to confirm – former Australian world No 26 Casey Dellacqua gave Beretta a serve.
She asked if Seven would have stopped the coverage and crossed to a men’s match immediately if the “roles were reversed”.
Hmm can’t help but wonder if the roles were reversed & u were showing a women’s match with 2 aussies & we had a world number #1 male start playing on another court that u wouldn’t stop the coverage & cross over to the that match 🤷♀️ I LOVE Nick & Thommo too FYI. Just a thought 💁♀️
— Casey Dellacqua OLY (@caseydellacqua) July 2, 2019
Other Twitter users backed Dellacqua, calling Beretta’s rationale “ridiculous” and a “pretty poor excuse” although one bemoaned “this BS ‘men’s vs women argument”.
Sunrise co-host Samantha Arymtage supported Beretta, saying “the powers that be” were responsible, but delivered the apology that he didn’t give.
She told viewers what happened was a “shame”, adding, “We’re sorry and hopefully we’ll work it out.”
The New Daily asked Seven if it makes its broadcasting decisions purely based on which match starts first and if there is a precedent to switch from one match to another for a higher-ranked player.
The network replied the Kygrios and Thompson match was “epic” compared to Barty’s “one-sided” match.
“Nick Kyrgios and Jordan Thompson were tied in the third set of a thrilling contest when Ash walked onto court,” a network spokesperson said.
“We screened as much of Ash’s one-sided game as we could and enabled Foxtel to broadcast it in full.”
The spokesperson said 7TWO’s “massive ratings” were “comparable to a Wimbledon final” and showed “how engaged Aussies were” in the men’s match.
The early part of the evening’s coverage drew 412,00 viewers. The later coverage saw 451,000 viewers tune in and was the 19th most-watched show of the day.
A privilege playing on one of the most gorgeous tennis courts in the world 💚💜💫
Round ✌🏽 soon! pic.twitter.com/gv4j1oXPKf
— Ash Barty (@ashbar96) July 2, 2019
Barty, who was given a standing ovation after winning 6-4 6-2 in little more than an hour on Court 1 at the All England Club, played a diplomatic game when asked about the TV snub.
“How do you want me to answer that one?” she said.
“If people can watch my matches great, if they can’t, they can’t. That’s up to the broadcasters.”
Kyrgios said he was surprised Seven only broadcast one match: “I thought they would probably show both, I don’t really have much to say about that.”