This is not breaking news: Tiger Woods will remain his sport’s top television draw —especially when it comes to the majors—until he is no longer competitive on a week-to-week basis. The so-called Tiger Woods Television effect has been chronicled on many occasions—you can find some of those pieces here and here—and it’s a generally accepted thesis that when Woods contends for a title at a major, the television ratings jump considerably. Conversely, when Woods is not near the top of the leaderboard heading into the weekend, the ratings drop unless there is significant late-hole drama.
Because Woods casts such a long television shadow over the sport, I was curious to see the viewership numbers for Sunday’s final round of the Masters featuring 21-year-old Jordan Spieth completing a wire-to-wire, record-setting tournament to claim his green jacket. The verdict? CBS’s final-round coverage drew 14 million, up 26% from last year’s 11.1 million when Bubba Watson won for the second time and Woods did not play in the tournament. The final round peaked with a viewership of 17.7 million from 6:30-7 PM, ET. Though Woods finished tied for 17th place, 13 strokes behind Spieth, he was part of the narrative over the weekend as he was tied for fifth heading into Sunday. Given his strong Saturday, he was paired with Rory McIlroy two groups before Spieth went off on Sunday. Not surprisingly—and quite correctly—he was a big part of CBS’s last day coverage.
How did the viewership of the final round of 2015 (14.1M) compare to the last couple of years? Here’s a quick look:
2014: 11.1 million viewers
(Watson wins; Woods did not play.)
2013: 14.7 million viewers
(Australia’s Adam Scott wins an extra-holes playoff over Argentina’s Angel Cabrera; Woods finishes in fourth, four strokes back.)
2012: 13.5 million viewers
(Watson tops Louis Oosthuizen in a sudden-death playoff; Woods finishes 40th, 15 strokes back.)
2011: 15.3 million viewers
(Charl Schwartzel wins by two strokes; Woods finishes tied for fourth, four strokes back.)
2010: 16.7 million viewers
(Phil Mickelson wins by three strokes; Woods finishes fourth, five strokes back.)
2009: 14.3 million viewers
(Cabrera wins in a playoff over Kenny Perry; Woods finishes tied for 10th, seven strokes back.)
It’s way too early to tell whether Spieth will be a television draw, but he has age (21) and likability (at the moment) on his side. The jackpot for golf networks would be a competitive Woods against the sport’s young guns (e.g. McIlroy, Patrick Reed, Rickie Fowler, Hideki Matsuyama etc...). That’s a narrative you can sell to casual sports viewers.
THE NOISE REPORT
1. NBC’s two-month coverage of the Stanley Cup Playoffs begins Wednesday with four first-round games. The network said it will televise as many as five games on a given day, which means the following networks will be used for coverage: NBC, NBCSN, NHL Network, USA Network, and CNBC. It is the first time in 30 years that USA Network will air playoff hockey. First-round games on cable are subject to local blackouts.
NBC will have two pregame shows during most nights in the first round (one on NBCSN, and one for USA Network/CNBC) from separate studios. The talent will be a combination of hosts Liam McHugh, Kathryn Tappen, Russ Thaler and Dave Briggs, and analysts Mike Milbury, Keith Jones, Jeremy Roenick and Anson Carter. NBC Sports Live Extra will livestream all games airing on NBC, NBCSN, USA Network and CNBC.
1a. NBC announced some of the early-round broadcast assignments for the Stanley Cup playoffs (some of the broadcasters are from the CBC). They include:
Capitals-Islanders: Kenny Albert (play-by-play) and Pierre McGuire (analyst).
Senators-Canadiens: Paul Romanuk (play-by-play), Mike Johnson, Glenn Healy and David Amber (analysts).
Blackhawks-Predators: Gord Miller (play-by-play) and Joe Micheletti (analyst).
Flames-Canucks: Jim Hughson (play-by play), Craig Simpson and Scott Oake (analysts).
Penguins-Rangers: Mike Emrick (play-by-play) and McGuire.
Red Wings-Lightning: John Forslund (play-by-play) and Andy Brickley (analyst).
Wild-Blues: Dave Strader (play-by-play) and Brian Engblom (analyst).
Jets-Ducks: Dave Randorf (play-by-play), Garry Galley and Cassie Campbell-Pascall (analysts)
1b. The 2015 NHL Draft Lottery, which will determine the selection in the first round of the 2015 NHL draft for the 14 clubs that failed to make the postseason, will air on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET on NBC, prior to Game 2 of the first-round series between the Penguins and Rangers. Of note this year are top prospects in the draft—Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel—who are thought to be franchise-changing players.
2. Here are the Top 10-rated cities (by rating) for the final round of The Masters.
1. Ft. Myers
2. Greensboro-High Point-Winston Salem
4. Tampa-St. Petersburg
5. West Palm Beach
T8. Minneapolis-St. Paul
T8. Kansas City
2a. The third round of the Masters drew 8.9 million viewers, up 51 percent from last year’s 5.9 million viewers.
2b. Golfweek.com took Masters host Jim Nantz to task, saying the CBS broadcaster “sounded more like a spokesman for the PGA Tour than an objective observer.”
3. On Sunday I reported that college football analyst Lou Holtz and ESPN had parted ways. There’s also a long interview with Charles Barkley where he recounts the story of gaining 20 pounds in 48 hours prior to a pre-draft workout in Philadelphia to avoid being drafted by the Sixers.
4. Some good Monday reads:
•espnW’s Jane McManus on the long road back for Christy Mack.
•Via Sara Amato: My mom is an alcoholic.
4a. Al Jazeera America’s America Tonight launches a special series on Tuesday called “Sex Crimes in Sports,” and focuses on the intersection of sexual assault and sports. According to digital producer Tim Bella, the series (from Tuesday to Thursday at 10 p.m. ET) will examine the victims of sexual assault in college athletics; the hazing culture in sports, and whether the sexual assault cases involving football players at the University of Montana is a national blueprint for prevention and awareness on college campuses.
5. Sports Business Daily media reporter John Ourand reports that the San Antonio Spurs drew the highest local ratings among any NBA team this year. They were followed by the Cavs, Thunder and Heat. Ourand reported the bottom five included the Nets, Sixers, Magic, Nuggets and Hornets. As for big drops from last year, Ourand reported the Timberwolves had a 45 percent drop on Fox Sports North while Knicks’ ratings dropped 37 percent on the MSG Network.
5a. Reporter Armen Keteyian and producer Coleman Cowan’s piece for 60 Minutes on former Duke men’s lacrosse coach Mike Pressler (now at Bryant University) is worth watching.