This article is in response to PGA Championship 2018: Tiger Woods delivers the PGA's best TV ratings since, well, the last time he almost won.
2017 was a bad year for golf viewership. The U.S. Open and the Masters, two of golf’s biggest tournaments, hit near-historic lows for ratings. But in 2018, we’re seeing a change with an increase in ratings for all four golf majors this year. Last weekend’s PGA Championship had its best TV ratings in almost 10 years. The 6.1 rating was an increase of 69% from the previous year, and it tied for the highest non-Masters TV rating since the final round of the U.S. Open in 2012 (1).
But what was the cause of these numbers - an increase in the popularity of the sport, extra thrilling rounds of golf, or something else? Well… while I’m sure these factors help; the answer is the star power of Tiger Woods.
Tiger Woods is one of the most recognizable athletes in the nation--only behind Michael Jordan and Muhammad Ali--and easily the most recognized golfer. Super sports’ fan or not, you most likely know his name. According to Nielsen’s N-Score talent tracker, Tiger has an awareness score of 84, which is 59 points above the average for other athletes in the sport and 58% higher than the next most recognizable golfer. (2)
Not only do TV viewers just know his name, they also pay attention when he plays especially well. The 6.1 rating from this Sunday’s tournament was the highest since the last time Tiger had a place anywhere near the top of the standings (1). In fact, ratings have increased year over year in every one of the five events that Tiger Woods has played in for this season; and the better he performs, the bigger the increase.
So whether they’re inspired by his comeback, think he’s overrated, or really don’t have an opinion, fans want to watch Tiger Woods play golf; and TV stations are capitalizing.