SBD/April 10, 2012/Media

CBS Sees Lowest Sunday Overnight For Masters Since '04, Affected By Easter, Weather

CBS earned an 8.1 overnight Nielsen rating for the final round of The Masters on Sunday, marking the lowest rating since '04, when the final round was also played on Easter Sunday. The telecast, which saw Bubba Watson win in the second hole of a playoff over Louis Oosthuizen, was also down 22% from a 10.4 overnight last year, when Charl Schwartzel won by two shots over Jason Day and Adam Scott. It also marks the second straight year the final round has seen a double-digit percentage drop. The combination of Easter and good weather resulted in TV HUT levels dropping 12% compared to last year and the lowest level since '04. Third-round coverage on Saturday earned CBS a 5.1 overnight, down 25% from a 6.8 rating last year (THE DAILY). MEDIA LIFE's Bill Cromwell notes "a slight ratings decline would have been no surprise" with the final round this year falling on Easter. But ratings were also "likely hurt by the poor performance by Tiger Woods" (MEDIALIFEMAGAZINE.com, 4/10).

OVERNIGHT NIELSEN RATINGS TREND
FOR FINAL ROUND OF THE MASTERS ON CBS
YEAR
OVERNIGHT
WINNER
'12
8.1
Bubba Watson
'11
10.4
Charl Schwartzel
'10
12.0
Phil Mickelson
'09
8.8
Angel Cabrera
'08
8.9
Trevor Immelman
'07
9.1
Zach Johnson
'06
9.0
Phil Mickelson
'05
10.3
Tiger Woods
04
7.3
Phil Mickelson
'03
9.3
Mike Weir
'02
9.9
Tiger Woods
     

EARLY ROUNDS: ESPN averaged 3.4 million viewers for the first two rounds of The Masters on Thursday and Friday, up from 3.0 million viewers last year. The net averaged 4.1 million viewers for coverage of the second round on Friday, marking the most-viewed Friday coverage ever for the event and the third-largest audience ever to watch golf on cable TV. The audience figure is also up from 3.5 million viewers for the second round last year and exceeded the previous Friday record of 3.9 million viewers set in '10. The only two golf telecasts on cable TV which rank ahead of this year's second round are the first round of the '10 Masters on ESPN (4.9 million viewers) and the '08 U.S. Open playoff on ESPN (4.8 million viewers). ESPN also averaged 2.7 million viewers for coverage of the first round last Thursday, up 4% from last year. ESPN's digital platforms -- including ESPN.com, ESPN Mobile and ScoreCenter app -- saw a 15% year-over-year increase in average minute audience for The Masters. ESPN.com's golf page also saw daily unique visitors up 3% (ESPN).

MESMERIZED BY THE MASTERS:
USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand wrote CBS' Masters action Sunday "showed how good TV sports can be when networks get out of the way and let the action sell itself." The network's voices were "actually pretty restrained about gushing over Augusta National Golf Course," which is "saying something given that [Jim] Nantz might be as enamored with the Masters as any sportscaster has been with any event." Hiestand noted CBS "didn't have a Tiger Woods charge to hang its hat on, but got the next best thing in having Phil Mickelson, the only other golfer who has consistently moved the ratings needle in recent years, in the hunt." But the network "stuck to quickly cutting between shots rather than going overboard on Mickelson." Hiestand: "Predictably, CBS reporter David Feherty had most of the on-air criticisms, which can be dangerous at Augusta." Feherty "came pretty close to the line on a replay of Louis Oosthuizen's shot to score a double eagle Sunday: 'Come to papa. Come on. You know you want to'" (USA TODAY, 4/9). In Denver, Dusty Saunders wrote under the header, "CBS's Masters Coverage Continues Excellence At Augusta National." Saunders: "Saturday's coverage was highlighted by the in-depth look at Phil Mickelson's eagle putt on 13 that tied him for the lead" (DENVER POST, 4/9).

COMMERCIAL FREE: In Utah, Mike Sorensen wrote there is "no sporting event on earth as mesmerizing as the Masters." Sorensen noted The Masters "controls how many commercials are on its telecast, and for years, it has only" had four minutes of commercials in each hour. Sorensen: "Four minutes? You can get that many commercials in the last two minutes of a college basketball game with all the timeouts they're allowed." The one problem is "you may forget to have lunch or have a chance for a potty break with so few breaks. And if the action is extra good, you'll be stuck to your sofa for hours" (DESERET NEWS, 4/9). Following Watson's win, Nantz said to CBS' Nick Faldo, "With the way he plays, Nick, already with a massive following just because of the style of play, this is a big moment for this sport. You know, this is a new star for the game of golf." Faldo responded, "He connects with these people because he's worn his heart well and truly on his sleeve all week and all of his life" ("The Masters," CBS, 3/8). In N.Y., Phil Mushnick notes Oosthuizen’s "historic, second-hole double eagle at the Masters on Sunday was shown on tape." CBS "confirmed the shot was not shown live" (N.Y. POST, 4/10).

NOT SEEING GREEN: In N.Y., Borden & Crouse noted IBM CEO Virginia Rometty was seen on the grounds at Augusta National Sunday and is "believed to have entertained clients at the club Friday, Saturday and Sunday." Rometty was "not wearing a green jacket, which is the traditional attire of club members." That Rometty was "able to elude fans and the news media for so long is perhaps not surprising." There is "not a large corporate village at Augusta National, so it is believed that IBM officials welcomed clients at a cabin secluded on the back nine of the golf course" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/9). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Jason Gay noted Rometty "stood and applauded when word arrived that the 33-year-old Watson had captured the Masters on the second playoff hole, at the tenth, down the hill from IBM's company cabin." Gay: "If she's not a golf fan, it's hard to say who is. For Augusta, welcoming Ms. Rometty to the club should be a no-brainer, a rubber stamp, a tap-in." This "controversy is unlikely to stop the Masters from being a significant event." The "shame is that it's preventing it from being a better, more inclusive one" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 4/9).
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