April 14th, 2010
Will scandal prove to be a long-term boost for PGA Tour?
As the solid television ratings for the 2010 Masters golf championships at Augusta have resonated among rights holders, advertisers and the PGA Tour itself, it has raised the question of whether the recent Tiger Woods scandal will actually prove to be a long-term boost for professional golf.
A final round 67 gave Phil Mickelson his third Masters title and fourth major championship Sunday at the Masters at Augusta National. It also drew television ratings that made the 2010 tournament the third most-watched golf event in U.S. television ratings history.
At a rating of 12 and a share of 25, this year's tournament ranked behind only Woods' first Masters win in 1997 (15.8 and 32) and his second title at Augusta in 2001 (12.9 and 27). Not only did the television numbers grow by 36% over 2009 on CBS in the United States, they were up 74% on Global Television in Canada, with 1.8 million Canadians watching Sunday's final round.
According to TEAM 1040 sport business commentator Tom Mayenknecht, the solid ratings can only be explained in terms of what he refers to as “soft users”.
“Numbers like that and a 43% increase on ESPN in the U.S. and audience numbers on TSN in Canada that were 76% north of the previous Masters record do not happen on the strength of hard core golf fans alone,” said Mayenknecht tonight in his Bulls and Bears sport business blog at www.TheSportMarket.biz and www.teamradio.ca. “They are fueled by so-called soft users, ranging from sports fans who only watch headline-making golf to non-sports fans drawn by other factors, in this case the comeback of Woods and the compelling family story surrounding Mickelson.”
Despite the anxiety that has permeated throughout the golf industry over the past few months, Mayenknecht believes the messy scandal – and the PR damage incurred by Woods -- could wind up in fact triggering a boost in interest around the PGA Tour.
“Tiger has defined the PGA Tour and professional golf for more than a decade and there’s every indication he will continue to do so for years to come, especially as he pursues Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major titles” said Mayenknecht. “But there’s an interesting dynamic at play here, where the tarnished image of Tiger Woods is set against those of his rivals on the Tour.”
In his blog, Mayenknecht asks: “Is it possible that the bubble bursting on the public image of Tiger Woods will have many of us finding both him and his major rivals on the tour more interesting than we did a year ago, rather than less compelling? The early returns on the television ratings for the 2010 Masters, along with the record internet page views and online traffic around the tournament, appear to suggest exactly that.”
The Masters television story will be among those on the podium of the top three sport business storylines on this week’s edition of The Sport Market on TEAM 1040 and teamradio.ca, Saturday from 9 a.m. to 12 noon PT.
This Saturday, The Sport Market will kick off a 15-hour day of live local programming on TEAM 1040. Mayenknecht will be followed by Sports Saturday with Bob “The Moj” Marjanovich and Chris Burns (12 noon to 4 p.m.) and the Canucks Pre-Game Show with Jeff Paterson at 4 p.m. Game two of the Western Conference quarter-final in the NHL’s 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs will see the LA Kings take on the Vancouver Canucks at 7 p.m. PT at General Motors Place and on TEAM 1040, with John Shorthouse and Tom Larscheid calling all the action.