SBD/October 1, 2012/Media

Europe's Historic Comeback Gives NBC Best Ryder Cup Sunday Overnight Since '99

While the U.S. lost, NBC earned praise from TV critics for its Ryder Cup coverage
NBC earned a 4.1 overnight Nielsen rating for coverage of the final day of the Ryder Cup yesterday from 12:00-6:30pm ET, marking the best rating for the final day since the U.S.' comeback at Brookline in '99 (6.3 overnight). Yesterday's telecast, which saw the U.S. team squander a four-point lead at the start of the day, was up 71% from '10, when the event was in Europe and aired primarily in the morning, and up 21% from '08. NBC also earned a 3.2 overnight for Saturday's coverage, up from a 2.1 in '10 and a 2.8 in '08 (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).

WHERE CREDIT IS DUE: USA TODAY’s Michael Hiestand writes yesterday’s Ryder Cup play “was made for TV.” The European team winning its first five matches, “making the event less one-sided, had to come as a relief to NBC.” Announcers Johnny Miller and Dan Hicks, “while not openly rooting for the USA, seemed to hold their breath as the day went on.” Hiestand: “Credit NBC for not over-talking through the drama and keeping its shots from being cluttered by too many graphics as the match-play format allowed nearly every stroke to air” (USA TODAY, 10/1). The GLOBE & MAIL’s Bruce Dowbiggin writes, “Give NBC credit. Even as the Americans bellyflopped, its hosts and analyst were professional and even-handed. They rode the Euro comeback story, didn’t protect the Americans and played it (more or less) straight.” Dowbiggin said Miller “surprisingly” was “somewhat muted compared to earlier Cups.” Miller still had “plenty of zingers” but seemed to “lose his edge when the ebullient Colin Montgomerie popped by the NBC booth.” Montgomerie’s honesty about Europe’s “earlier face plant seemed to take the sting from Miller” (GLOBE & MAIL, 10/1).

LOSING HIS FASTBALL? GOLFDIGEST.com’s John Strege wrote Miller “never mentioned the word ‘choke,’ though the U.S. team squandered a 10-6 lead.” Strege: “We can only surmise the criticism he has taken for using the word freely over the years has had an effect on him.” Meanwhile, when U.S. player Webb Simpson “shanked his tee shot at the eighth hole,” Miller said, "You hit with a shank and people never forget it." Strege noted Miller was “speaking from experience, though he failed to inform the audience of that.” During the '72 Bing Crosby National Pro-Am, Miller was “in contention on the 16th hole of the final round, when he shanked a shot.” He “went on to lose to Jack Nicklaus in a playoff” (GOLFDIGEST.com, 9/30). Meanwhile, in N.Y., Phil Mushnick wrote Miller during Saturday's four-ball segment "determined for us that [Steve] Stricker was the reason he and teammate Tiger Woods had lost their first two matches.” Mushnick: “Despite more visual evidence to the contrary, Miller picked and chose when to certify his own position.” Woods and Stricker losing Friday morning’s alternate shot match “had nothing to do with Stricker, everything to do with Woods. … Miller left that out. Perish the thought that Woods take a hit on TV” (N.Y. POST, 10/1).

DISTRACTING ADS: GOLF WORLD’s Geoff Shackelford writes NBC’s telecast was “disjointed.” While the net's “pictures and commentary were first rate,” the “Twittersphere erupted in horror at the seemingly never-ending commercial breaks." ESPN's Friday coverage was "similarly marred." The "blame goes to the PGA of America for not contractually requiring its partners to show a bit of commercial restraint." Shackelford: "When the golf and television coverage is this good, it's a crime to leave fans wondering what else they missed" (GOLF WORLD MONDAY, 10/1).
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