Monday, July 23, 2012

TV's Tuned in for the Open Championship

Before the start of the Open Championship (British Open), Kevin Rossi wrote a preview post. Although he missed on the winner, he was correct in saying that Tiger would be in contention. Tiger Woods being in contention at a major championship is one of many factors that plays into TV ratings for the sport of golf. Other factors include the time of the tournament and the competitiveness of the tournament.

Tiger Effect
No matter what the public perception is of Tiger Woods, there is no denying that he is critical to the game of golf and critical to TV ratings. Tiger Woods missed half of the 2008 season due to a knee injury. In the tournaments that he missed while hurt, TV ratings feel 47% compared to 2007 when he played in those tournaments.

For the 2012 Open Championship, Tiger was a contender throughout. In 2011, Tiger announced that he would miss the Open Championship because of injuries. The TV ratings show the "Tiger Effect." The 2012 Open Championship saw TV ratings on Friday that were up 50% from 2011, ratings were up 67% on Saturday from 2011 and ratings were up 50% for Sunday's final round compared to 2011. There is no hiding what Tiger means to the game of golf.

Fans love the fist pump

Tournament Time of Day
Time of day is a considerable factor in the ratings of golf. The Open Championship is on very early in the morning (for I-95ers) with coverage beginning as early as 4:30AM. The West Coast is better off staying up all night if they want to watch coverage of the tournament. Then there are tournaments like the US Open, where location varies. When the tournament is held on the East Coast, we can expect the final round to end around 7pm eastern. When the tournament is held on the West Coast, we can expect a prime time finish for the east coast at around 10pm. The 2012 US Open took place on the West Coast and finished in prime time, the 2011 US Open took place on the East Coast and finished considerably earlier. The results of the time difference were clear. Ratings were up 29% this year from last year. 

Competitiveness of the Tournament
Competition in a tournament is a result of the players who are playing, the importance of the tournament and how close the top players on the leader board are to each other. The players who are in a tournament is an important factor. We saw earlier the effect of Tiger Woods on the game, in tournaments without key players ratings are naturally down. When it comes to the importance of a tournament it is obvious that viewers rather watch majors over any other tournament. Unless a record is on the line, people want to see a close tournament. When a leader takes over a tournament, people tend to tune out. In 2011, Rory McIlroy won the US Open. Rory blew away the field, but ratings were down 26% compared to the  2010 Open.

Final Thought
I consider myself a big golf fan, but a bigger Tiger fan. I was glued to the TV as Tiger had a shot at winning another major. Once Tiger was out of the tournament, I lost most of my interest. In fact, at that point I went and hit the links myself. Fortunately for the viewers still watching, the tournament had an exciting ending. Ernie Els played solid golf and made a clutch (ended up being REAL clutch) putt on the 18th green to post a score of 7 under. Els post of 7 under plus an Adam Scott collapse gave Ernie his fourth career major championship. Quite an accomplishment.

Ernie Els takes home the hardware for the 2012 Open Championship


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  1. Loving the push to get more golf on the blog. I love golf (can't wait to hit up the course down in OBX tomorrow). Also, great article. The Tiger Effect is no joke. He has a profound effect on the TV ratings and it is even amazing how he effects round-by-round ratings depending on where he's at.
    Thanks for pointing out that I missed on the winner :). I should never gamble. I'm always way off base.

    1. No doubt that golf is great. Quite jealous that you are down there playing. We all know that it is no easy task picking out a winner at the Open Championship lol.