SBD/Issue 84/Sports Media

With Wie's Participation, ESPN Sees Ratings Bump In Hawaii

Wie Pushes Sony Open Coverage
To 29% Increase Over '03

ESPN averaged a 0.9/ (831,000 HHs) Nielsen cable rating for the first two rounds of the PGA Tour Sony Open, which featured 14-year-old Michelle Wie, up 29% from the 0.7 for the first two rounds last year, and up 30% from the 640,000 HHs. Friday's second round earned a 1.1/ (1,002,000 HHs), up 57% over last year's second round rating of 0.7/ (618,000 HHs). Thursday's opening round earned a 0.67/ (591,000 HHs) down 12% from last year's 0.76. (662,000 HHs). While Wie did not advance to the weekend rounds, ESPN earned a four-day average of 0.95, up 10% from a 0.86 last year. Saturday's coverage got a 0.95, down 1% from last year, and Sunday's final round earned a 0.97, up 1% (THE DAILY). In Honolulu, Lewis & Miller wrote one reason for Thursday's decline "could be that Wie finished her round just as ESPN went on the air" (HONOLULU ADVERTISER, 1/17).

TWO MISSED SHOTS: On Long Island, Steve Zipay noted Wie's final hole Friday — where she needed an eagle to make the cut — was not shown because ESPN "broke away from the live telecast after the 17th hole to carry the opening tip of the Lakers-Kings game." ESPN Dir of PR Rob Tobias said, "We have a commitment to air live NBA action." Zipay noted Wie birdied the hole and missed the cut by a stroke, "but ESPN didn't show tape of Wie's two final shots ... until after the first quarter of the NBA game." ESPN had already extended Sony Open coverage for an hour, and Zipay wondered, "If ESPN hung around that long, why not a few more minutes or shift to the Deuce?" Tobias noted that ESPN2 "was committed to carrying live boxing at the time, ... and wasn't available for a switch" (NEWSDAY, 1/18). Wie "spent most of [Saturday] as part of the ESPN broadcast team. She did a stint in the TV booth before venturing out on the course where she accompanied commentator Charlie Reimer" (HONOLULU ADVERTISER, 1/18).

GUEST OF HONOR: Wie has accepted an invitation to play in the May 6-9 LPGA Michelob Ultra Open, and USA TODAY's Jerry Potter writes Anheuser-Busch VP/Global Media & Sports Marketing Tony Ponturo "offered Wie the Michelob Open exemption a month ago. He considered the implications of a teenager playing in a tournament sponsored by a beer company." But Ponturo said, "We're putting her in a golf tournament. We aren't using her in any advertising. She won't be wearing any (Anheuser-Busch) logos" (USA TODAY, 1/21). PGA Tour Chrysler Championship Tournament Dir Gerald Goodman, on reasons to invite Wie: "We are all fighting for that dollar and (TV) ratings. Ratings mean everything to the sponsor, that's why they're buying it" (ST. PETE TIMES, 1/20). In Baltimore, Don Markus reports Wie has decided to "defend her title in this year's U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links championship in Williamsburg, Va., rather than accept a sponsor's exemption" to the PGA Tour's Booz Allen Classic in Maryland (Baltimore SUN, 1/21).

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