Last year Nielsen documented that when Tiger Woods wasn’t playing in the PGA Tour (at the time, due to injury), the TV ratings dropped by nearly 50 percent.

With Woods announcing he was coming back for the Masters, Nielsen looked at TV ratings for the final rounds of golf’s four major tournaments since 1977 and found that the top ten telecasts were all from the Masters. The top-rated telecast was the tournament’s final round in 1997.

If Tiger is in contention the final Sunday this year look for huge, record-setting ratings.

Top 10 Major Golf  Final Round Telecasts
(Since 1977)
Rank Program Network Household Rating (%) Winner
1 Masters 1997 CBS 14.1 Woods
2 Masters 2001 CBS 13.0 Woods
3 Masters 1981 CBS 10.6 Watson
4 Masters 1990 CBS 10.5 Faldo*
5 Masters 1998 CBS 10.2 O’Meara
6 Masters 1999 CBS 10.1 Olazabal
7 Masters 2000 CBS 10.0 Singh
8 Masters 1987 CBS 9.9 Mize*
9 Masters 1989 CBS 9.9 Faldo*
10 Masters 2005 CBS 9.8 Woods
Source: The Nielsen Company
*indicates playoff

But James Hibberd notes that even if this year’s event at Augusta produce record ratings, it might not be all that meaningful to CBS.  The Augusta National Golf Club which controls the Masters puts very strict rules on the telecast.  There are only 3 advertisers this year (his year (IBM, Coke, Mercedes) and those sponsorships were pre-sold, independent of actual ratings.  Also, there is limited commercial interruption.

Furthermore, there are restrictions limiting how much CBS can promote its own shows.  Hibberd notes the biggest bang for CBS’s buck might not come from advertising but rather the potential monster lead-in for its Sunday night shows.

Posted by:TV By The Numbers

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