via press release:
ESPN’s Thursday Masters Coverage Averages 2.55 Million Viewers
ESPN’s live coverage of the 2011 Masters Tournament on Thursday, April 7, from 3-7:30 p.m. averaged 2,550,000 viewers with a 2.1 rating based on fast nationals, according to the Nielsen Company.
As expected, viewership did not match the record-breaking ratings and audience for last year’s first round of the Masters, which featured Tiger Woods’ return to golf and was the most-viewed golf telecast in cable history.
“What happened last year was an anomaly,” said John Wildhack, ESPN executive vice president, programming acquisition and strategy. “Tiger’s return was not just sports page news, but front page news around the world.”
The 2010 Thursday telecast, which also included much of Woods’ opening round, earned a 4.0 national household coverage rating and averaged 4,936,000 viewers. Because of his early tee time on Thursday this year, Woods was already on the 15th hole when ESPN’s telecast began.
Ratings were more in line with the 2009 telecast of the first round, which earned a 2.8 rating, and the 2008 rating of 2.2, both for three-hour telecasts. ESPN’s coverage of the first two rounds this year is an hour longer each day than in the past three years, and a this year’s Thursday telecast earned a 2.3 rating from 4-7:30 p.m., the timeslot for 2008-2010. The 2.3 rating for the timeslot was the highest ESPN has earned for Masters Tournament play that did not include Woods, who had finished his round by 4 p.m.