Now that it’s apparent that Tiger Woods won’t be back on the PGA Tour anytime soon, professional golf is putting on a brave face to try and assure everyone that they’ll be just fine without Tiger.

But who are they kidding? We already know that Tiger Woods = big ratings.

In an AP piece that does a good job summarizing the numbers comes these whoppers:

“We’re all looking forward to him coming back, but until then we’re doing perfectly fine,” CBS Sports president Sean McManus said.

That’s it Sean, breathe deeply, everything will be just fine.

For the 15 or so tournaments where Woods might have been expected to play this year, Novenstern estimated the resulting advertising loss to networks would total between $10 million and $20 million. In comparison to other economic hardships challenging broadcasters right now, he says, “This is just a speed bump.”

It’s good to put the “Great Recession” and the continuing decline of broadcast television in perspective, but that’s $15-20 million dollars lost due to the absence of one man.

There’s no question Woods delivers a ratings kick for any tournament he plays in, ranging from 20 percent to as much as 50 percent.

“But a certain percent of Tiger’s audience is not the traditional golf audience and, in effect, is not what many advertisers are looking for,” says Neal Pilson, president of Pilson Communications, a media consulting firm, and a former president of CBS Sports. “If Tiger’s in an event, you expect a 50 percent increase in ratings. You don’t necessarily negotiate a 50 percent increase in the advertising rate.”

This is “the glass not quite half-empty” quote. Sure, our ratings are going to get crushed, but our advertising revenue won’t decline by quite the same percentage, please make sure Wall Street understands that.

says Stephen Master, vice president of Nielsen Sports. “Golf had pretty strong support before Tiger. Maybe people are getting used to the fact that, for a while, at least, Tiger won’t be around.”

Sort of like facing the immediate loss of his iPhone business for an undetermined amount of time Apple’s Steve Jobs saying, “Apple had a pretty good business before the iPhone…”

Posted by:TV By The Numbers

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