18 April 2018
The Tiger Effect
December’s Hero World Challenge may have been an off-season 18-man exhibition, however, the return of Tiger Woods boosted its TV ratings to new highs.
According to the Golf Channel, the 2017 Hero World Championship saw a 29 percent increase over the 2016 event, and with 22.4 million total minutes streamed (a 201 percent increase year-over-year) it was second only to the Open Championship among NBC golf events last year.
Tiger’s second appearance this season, at the Farmers Insurance, also had a big impact on the ratings. According to New York Daily, CBS Sports' Sunday final-round coverage earned a 38 percent increase from last year and was the highest-rated Sunday for the Farmers in five years, since the last time Tiger won in 2013.
“He may be the biggest name in sports, matched only by Michael Jordan and Muhammad Ali,” said the former president of CBS Sports and president of Pilson Communications, Inc., Neal H. Pilson, to Golf Digest after the Famers Insurance. “When he plays, the networks are going to give him coverage. And the fact is, the public wants to see that coverage.”
At the Genesis Open, there was a similar trend on the rating graph over the first two days, which dropped off when Tiger missed the cut for the last two rounds. Then, when Tiger challenged for the lead during the final round of the Valspar Championship, it drew the largest TV audience of any non-Masters golf event since the 2015 PGA Championship. It also had the highest number of TV viewers for a non-major since the 2013 Players Championship, which was won by the 41-year-old player. The Golf Channel, which broadcast the pre-network coverage, earned themselves the title of the network’s highest-rated lead-in telecast ever, while NBC Sports engraved a record overnight rating on the Saturday for its coverage of the third round.
It was the best-rated third round of a PGA Tour event on any broadcast network since 2006, and the best rating for the Valspar tournament ever, with the viewership increasing 181 percent over the same round last year.
The increase that the networks have seen to their digital audience has been even more sizeable. Golf Channel and NBC Sports Digital experienced a massive 612 percent increase in minutes streamed with a total of 27.2 million minutes streamed for the tournament.
The huge audiences continue to turn out whenever Tiger is playing. The Tiger effect lives on!