Tiger Woods is a ratings draw every time he steps onto the green, but get him in a playoff round of a major tournament and watch the numbers take off.
That’s what happened Sunday, as CBS’ telecast of the PGA Championship from Louisville, Ky., delivered a tourney-record 10.0/22 overnight households rating — a 30% boost over the previous high set a year ago (7.7/18). Its final-round score ranks second among this year’s golf majors, behind only the Masters on CBS in April (10.1/21).
Ratings grew dramatically as the action moved into primetime in most of the country. According to Nielsen, the three-hole playoff between Woods and Bob May (6:30 to 7:45 p.m. ET) surged to a 15.9/30; and in the final half-hour, it did a 17.5/33.
‘Summer of Woods’
Woods won the tournament, becoming the first golfer since Ben Hogan in 1953 to take three majors in one year. His runaway victories in both the U.S. Open and British Open pumped up the ratings for those majors.
“The best thing about the ‘Summer of Tiger Woods’ is that all three networks, who have so much invested in professional golf, had their moment in the sun,” CBS Sports prexy Sean McManus said. “NBC with the U.S. Open, ABC with the British Open and CBS with the PGA Championship each benefited from these historic athletic performances.”
Saturday’s third-round action averaged a 5.8/15 in overnights, up 23% over last year’s 4.7/13 and also the best on record. By way of comparison, in the five years prior to Woods’ emergence on the golf scene in 1997, the tournament’s third round averaged a 3.7/11.
It was also a good sports weekend for NBC, whose coverage of the U.S. Women’s Olympic Gymnastic Trials from Boston delivered strong ratings.
Sunday’s two hours of action, which culminated with the selection of the women’s team, scored an 8.5/14 in overnights. It recorded an 11.2/18 in overnights in the final half-hour (8:30 to 9), making it the most-watched program on television at the time.
Saturday night’s primetime coverage (8-10) averaged a 6.0/12 in the overnights, also winning its timeslot.
The selection of the men’s gymnastics team rated well Sunday afternoon, averaging a 4.1/11 in overnights despite competing against golf for the first hour.