NBC Sports has joined Tiger Woods in setting records at the U.S. Open.
Sunday’s coverage of the Open, which featured Woods capping the most lopsided victory in the major tournament’s history, delivered its best overnight rating on record. According to Nielsen, Sunday’s coverage from 1:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. EDT averaged an 8.8/21 in overnights, 11% better than last year’s 7.9/20 and the best for the event since Nielsen began tracking it in 1975.
Nielsen will issue final national ratings today.
Saturday’s coverage, which ran until 10:45 p.m. in the East, averaged a 6.5/15 in overnights — a significant 23% improvement over last year’s 5.3/15. An NBC spokesman said the net made the decision Friday to knock out its regularly skedded Saturday primetime programming, continuing the net’s policy of airing golf events until their conclusion. The tourney was extended so long because of weather-related delays that pushed back the conclusion of the second round until Saturday morning.
Woods good for ratings
Golf has enjoyed a ratings renaissance since Woods emerged on the scene three years ago. His first major victory, in the 1997 Masters, delivered that tourney’s best national rating in more than 20 years (10.8), which had a final-round rating of 14.1.
NBC’s coverage of the NBA Finals, meanwhile, continues to post soft ratings, although Indiana’s victory in Game 5 figured to boost interest for Monday’s Game 6 in Los Angeles.
Friday’s Game 5 averaged a 10.0 national rating, down 9% from last year’s fifth and final game between the San Antonio Spurs and New York Knicks (11.0). Not surprisingly, viewers in L.A. tuned out as the Lakers fell further behind: The final half-hour (8:30-9 p.m. PDT) averaged a 27.9/45, contributing to a 29.4/49 overall score. Indianapolis gave the game a 40.6/61, peaking in the final half-hour with a 46.2/67.
This year’s finals is averaging a 10.8 through five games, down 4% from last year’s 11.3. If the series wrapped Monday night, Game 6 would have to average at least a 13.9 to enable this season’s finals to improve on last year’s all-time low marks.