SBD/June 21, 2011/Media

Lack of Drama For Final Round Of U.S. Open Leads To Tie For Lowest Rating On Record

NBC earned a 4.5 Nielsen rating for final-round coverage of the U.S. Open
NBC earned a 4.5 final Nielsen rating and 7.4 million viewers for the final round of the U.S. Open on Sunday from 1:30-7:47pm ET. The 4.5 rating is tied with the final round in '88 as the lowest-rated Sunday of the U.S. Open on record (dating back to the early '70s). The tournament in '88 concluded with an 18-hole playoff that Monday afternoon. This year's figures are down from a 5.8 rating and 9.3 million viewers for the final round in '10, which was played at Pebble Beach and aired from 3:00-9:15pm ET. Coverage of Saturday's third round earned a 3.2 rating and 4.6 million viewers from 2:00-8:02pm. Saturday coverage last year earned a 3.7 rating and 5.6 million viewers from 5:00-11:24pm, while the third round in '09 earned a 3.4 rating and 4.9 million viewers. ESPN averaged 1.1 million viewers for their coverage of the second round on Friday from 9:57am-3:00pm and 890,000 viewers for coverage on Thursday from 10:00am-3:00pm. Last year, the net averaged 2.2 million viewers on Friday and 2.1 million viewers on Thursday (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).

U.S. OPEN FINAL ROUND TREND ON NBC
YR
RATING
VIEWERS (000)
WINNER
TIGER
'11
4.5
7,369
Rory McIlroy
DNP
'10*
5.8
9,266
Graeme McDowell
4t
'09**
4.7
7,073
Lucas Glover
6t
'08*^
7.5
12,080
Tiger Woods
1
'07
6.4
9,547
Angel Cabrera
5t
'06
4.7
6,954
Geoff Ogilvy
MC
NOTES: * = Tournament held on West Coast with late primetime finish. ** = Final round began Sunday evening until play was suspended. Finished on Monday morning. ^ = Tournament finished on Monday with 18-hole playoff and one-hole sudden death.
         

THE BRITISH IS COMING: USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand writes ESPN "likely stands to gain" from McIlroy's victory. ESPN will broadcast next month's British Open, "traditionally the lowest-rated major in part because of time-zone issues," and the net "stands to gain extra hype as the McIlroy phenomenon sinks in" (USA TODAY, 6/21). Meanwhile, YAHOO SPORTS' Jonathan Wall wrote after listening to Chris Berman during the first two rounds of the U.S. Open on ESPN, viewers "got a sense of why Augusta wanted nothing to do with the 'Berman-isms' and the crummy one-liners." Wall: "I know he has a clause in his ESPN contract that says he gets to work the U.S. Open, but the only person who actually gets pleasure out of hearing Berman talk about golf is Berman himself. Simply put, he brings nothing to a major championship telecast" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 6/20).

STROKE & DISTANCE: BROADCASTING & CABLE's John Eggerton reported in a letter NBC is sending to some viewers, the network states that the "decision to edit the Pledge of Allegiance in a piece teeing off its U.S. Open Golf coverage was a 'bad decision' made by a 'small group of people,' and that the controversy it created was justifiable." NBC wrote in part, "We are aware of the distress this has caused many of our viewers and are taking the issue very seriously. Unfortunately, when producing the piece -- which was intended to capitalize on the patriotism of having our national championship played in our nation's capital -- a decision was made by a small group of people to edit portions of the Pledge of Allegiance. This was a bad decision" (BROADCASTINGCABLE.com, 6/20).

THERE'S ONLY ONE: The debut episode of Golf Channel's “Feherty” aired last night, with host David Feherty beginning the broadcast by saying, “My name's David Feherty, and welcome to my world and the show that we're going to call ‘Feherty,’ because that's my name and using anybody else's name would pretty much just be weird. I’m going to be straight with you. I struggle daily with addiction and mental illness, but take my meds and I'm okay today. There's no guarantee I'll be okay tomorrow, but today I'm fine. For the most part the inside of my head is uncensored and I have an unnerving tendency to say or do pretty much whatever comes into it. This may not fit the traditional structure of television and will probably make some of the suits at the Golf Channel a little jumpy. But those guys are more chicken than you are, Frank.” Frank was a stuffed rooster sitting on Feherty’s desk. More Feherty: “But hey, what's the point of doing this show if I can't challenge conventional wisdom, tip a sacred cow or two, deflate a pompous dillwad, or make a TV executive soil his trousers?” (“Feherty,” Golf Channel, 6/20).
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