Who’s Watching Golf?

By: Rick Limpert

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These two weeks have been a boon for golf, in terms of viewership.

NBC Sports Group’s final round coverage of the TOUR Championship on Sunday (3:00-6:19 p.m. ET) garnered a Total Audience Delivery (TAD) of 7.8 million average viewers, as Tiger Woods claimed his 80th career victory, and his first in five years. The telecast’s TAD was up 212% vs. 2017 (2.5m). Television viewership posted 7.18 million average viewers, up 192% YOY (2.46m) and a 4.45 U.S. household rating, up 178% vs. 2017 (1.60). It also becomes the most-watched telecast in the history of the FedExCup Playoffs (2007-2018) and the most-watched PGA TOUR telecast in 2018 (excludes majors).

Coverage peaked from 5:45-6 p.m. ET with 10.84 million average viewers as Woods finished his TOUR Championship-winning round and Justin Rose sealed his season-long victory as the FedExCup champion. The peak viewership number trails only the Masters (16.84m) and PGA Championship (12.39m) in 2018. The extended coverage window (1:30-6:19 p.m. ET) drew 5.89 million average viewers and a 3.69 U.S. household rating to become the most-watched and highest-rated TOUR Championship telecast on record (1991-2018).

Sunday’s final round saw 18.4 million minutes streamed across NBC Sports Digital platforms (+561% year-over-year), and becomes NBC Sports’ most-streamed Sunday round (excluding majors) on record (2013-’18).

Sunday’s lead-in coverage on Golf Channel (11:54 a.m.-1:25 p.m. ET) also garnered a Total Audience Delivery of 829K average viewers and posted a .56 U.S. household rating, becoming the most-watched and highest rated lead-in telecast of the TOUR Championship ever (2007-2018). Golf Channel was the No. 2 Sports Network during this window and No. 7 out of all Nielsen-rated cable networks during that span.

This week, NBC Sports Group hopes to ride this wave and is offering weeklong coverage of the biennial Ryder Cup from Le Golf National outside of Paris. Live From the Ryder Cup continues all week on Golf Channel, surrounding nearly 30 hours of NBC Sports’ Emmy-nominated live event coverage, spanning from Friday morning’s opening tee shot just after 2 a.m. ET through the clinching point on Sunday. The United States will look to retain the Ryder Cup after defeating Europe in 2016 (17-11), and aim to win for the first time on European soil in 25 years, since 1993.

But who’s watching golf and with Tiger Woods back as a factor, will the momentum continue?

Nielsen (ratings) notes that 63% of the golf’s television audience was over the age of 55. Some 87% of that audience was white, while only 12% was younger than 35. By comparison, only 25% of the National Basketball Association’s audience is 55 or older, 47% is younger than 35, and 57% is nonwhite.

For women’s golf, the LPGA’s key demographic isn’t all that different from that of its male counterparts. Both the PGA and LPGA have a viewership that’s about 63% male. Roughly 64% of the LPGA’s audience is 30 or older, and 84% is white.

Golf’s core audience is getting old, and it’s affecting golf far beyond its television broadcasts. Can Tiger save the day once again?

According to CBS, ratings from third round at this years PGA Championship at Bellerive saw a 54 percent increase compared to Saturday at Quail Hollow last year. Thanks to Tiger.

The Open Championship, which also featured Tiger on the leaderboard coming down the stretch, saw its best ratings since 2000. Woods knows how to draw a crowd- on and off the course. Much of the same is expected this weekend at the Ryder Cup, even though players will be teeing off for their morning rounds well before dawn here in North America.

 

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