Tiger Woods won The Masters in memorable fashion on Sunday, outlasting an impressive field of challengers to put an exclamation mark on his comeback story. While his victory made waves across the sporting landscape in a number of different ways, Woods also captivated audiences that aren’t always interested in golf, particularly when he isn’t in the mix on Sunday at a major. Evidence of his crossover appeal emerged on Monday morning, when CBS Sports announced impressive ratings for the tournament’s final round.
There are a number of factors worth considering, headlined by the (ultimately wise) decision to move the round’s start time to the early morning to avoid a storm that was bearing down on Georgia. As a result of the change, leaders teed off at approximately 9:00 am ET and, as you may expect, that is a less friendly time slot for television viewing. Anything from folks heading to church on the East Coast to those who would be sleeping on the West Coast might not be able to tune in for the final pairing’s drama.
With that in mind, the overall television ratings didn’t exactly pop when compared to previous iterations, though it should be pointed out that they were actually up from 2016.
As CBS noted in their official announcement, this is the highest-rated morning golf broadcast in more than three decades. That doesn’t take many Sunday finishes into account but it does provide context through the prism of The Open Championship, always held in the early morning hours in the United States given its presence in Europe. In addition, the peak time of the broadcast came in the 2:00 pm ET hour and, given the presence of the phenomenal theater with Woods and the accumulation of viewers, an impressive rating was posted.
On the surface, it shouldn’t be a surprise that a golf event headlined by Tiger Woods did well in the ratings, even if it doesn’t set viewership records as it may have in the late afternoon and early evening, as many attribute his rise to the overwhelming growth of the game in the United States. It shouldn’t be overlooked that this story was able to carry ratings at a time when they would be largely unthinkable under “normal” circumstances and, with apologies to 2018 winner Patrick Reed and 2017 winner Sergio Garcia, there was just something different about the stretch run in 2019.