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CBS earned a 10.2 overnight Nielsen rating for the final round of The Masters, which saw Adam Scott win over Angel Cabrera on the second hole of a playoff. That figure is up 26% from an 8.1 overnight for Bubba Watson’s playoff win over Louis Oosthuizen last year, which aired on a traditionally lower-viewed Easter Sunday. Compared to ’11, when Charl Schwartzel won by two shots over Scott and Jason Day, this year’s final round is down 2% from a 10.4 overnight. Yesterday’s final round peaked at a 13.4 rating as play concluded from 7:00-7:30pm ET. On Saturday, CBS earned a 6.3 rating, up 24% from a 5.1 overnight last year (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).
OVERNIGHT RATINGS TREND FOR CBS' SUNDAY MASTERS COVERAGEYEAROVERNIGHT
WINNER13*10.2 Adam Scott12*^8.1 Bubba Watson'1110.4 Charl Schwartzel'1012.0 Phil Mickelson09*^8.8 Angel Cabrera'088.9 Trevor Immelman07^9.1 Zach Johnson'069.0 Phil Mickelson05*10.3 Tiger Woods04^7.3 Phil Mickelson03*9.3 Mike Weir'029.9 Tiger Woods
CHART NOTES: * = Ended in playoff. ^ = Aired on Easter Sunday.C'MON, AUSSIE: USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand writes CBS "pounding away that an Australian had never won the Masters seemed overwrought initially, but it turned out to be prescient." CBS' Nick Faldo said Scott "is now officially the wizard of Oz" following the winning putt. CBS analyst and Australia native Ian Baker-Finch said Scott had come from "Down Under to the top of the world" (USA TODAY, 4/15). SI.com's Richard Deitsch writes CBS Sports Coordinating Producer Lance Barrow and Dir Steve Milton "provided terrific pictures for viewers over the weekend." Among the best were Scott's final round "rain-swept birdie at No. 18, Scott watching from the scoring room as Angel Cabrera birdied at No. 18, and Cabrera tossing his putter in the air in disbelief when he missed a birdie putt on the second extra hole" (SI.com, 4/15).
STRAIGHT TO TIGER: The AP's Tim Reynolds noted CBS on Saturday "devoted the first 12 minutes of its broadcast from the Masters entirely" to Tiger Woods and the two-stroke penalty he was assessed for taking an illegal drop Friday. The story "dominated the early coverage, and CBS didn't mention another player" until 3:12pm when it showed the leaderboard for the first time. The broadcast "started with a live shot of Woods at the sixth hole and being applauded by the gallery." CBS then "displayed the ruling that cost Woods two strokes but allowed him to remain in the tournament." It broke down what his "three options were after his shot on the 15th hole on Friday ended up in the water, then aired a lengthy interview" by CBS' Jim Nantz with Masters Rules Committee Chair Fred Ridley. But once the net "got through the initial wave of Woods coverage, it was largely business-as-usual, with cameras trained on an array of players over roughly the next 35 minutes." Then CBS again "revisited the Woods matter," with Faldo -- a three-time Masters champion -- saying that the way Friday's events "transpired ultimately saved Woods." Later in the telecast, Faldo's "tone seemed more conciliatory." Faldo reiterated that in "his era, he thought most players -- when presented with a situation like the one Woods was in -- would either be disqualified or withdraw." But he "stopped short of calling again for that to happen" (AP, 4/13). In Tampa Bay, Tom Jones writes Nantz did an "okay job" interviewing Ridley. He asked if Woods was "getting special treatment and why Woods wasn't disqualified." But Ridley's explanations "were shady and incomplete." Nantz "needed to press him a little more." Jones writes of CBS' Bill Macatee, "How can you do an interview with Tiger Woods immediately after his Sunday round at the Masters, talk about how he played, how close he came to winning and how he felt about his game and not ask how the Saturday controversy affected his play for the rest of the tournament?" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 4/15).
FLIP FLOP: USA TODAY's Hiestand noted Faldo on Golf Channel on Saturday morning said that Woods "should 'man up' and withdraw." But when the CBS broadcast began, Faldo "suggested that given 'the timeline' of the episode ... it seemed 'correct' that Woods be allowed to keep playing." Faldo, to be "helpful to casual fans who don't understand all the complicated rules, should have elaborated on why he changed his mind." Later in the broadcast he "addressed it again, but he focused on the decision by Masters officials and not whether Woods acted properly" (USATODAY.com, 4/13). GOLF DIGEST's Weinman & Myers gave Faldo a "bogey" for his remarks (GOLFDIGEST.com, 4/13).
TIME TO RISE & SHINE: GOLF DIGEST's John Strege wrote Golf Channel on Saturday morning was "handed a winning trifecta ticket: Tiger, the Masters and controversy." Analyst Brandel Chamblee at the "outset of the show, even before the penalty was assessed, argued that Tiger should 'call this penalty on himself, to disqualify himself for signing an incorrect scorecard.'" Each member of a studio panel -- former PGAers Brad Faxon, Olin Browne and John Cook, the "latter a close friend of Woods -- also agreed with Chamblee." Strege noted dissent came from analyst Frank Nobilo, who "argued that the rules call for a two-stroke penalty." Strege wrote it was a "spirited analysis and debate on a complicated issue that in an odd way simply heightened intrigue for a tournament that needs no hype" (GOLFDIGEST.com, 4/13). The TAMPA BAY TIMES' Jones ESPN on Saturday morning was "faced with two major stories involving two of the most famous athletes on the planet at the same time" with Woods' penalty and Lakers G Kobe Bryant's torn Achilles' tendson. But ESPN "handled both stories well, bringing in its experts to add insightful commentary." ESPN's Scott Van Pelt did an "excellent job lobbing up provocative questions and theories to analysts Andy North and Curtis Strange" about the Woods ruling. It was a "solid job by ESPN on what was an unusually busy Saturday morning" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 4/15).
EARLY BIRD SPECIAL: ESPN finished with a 3.0 U.S. rating and 4.2 million viewers for second round coverage of The Masters, marking the highest-rated and most-viewed Friday for the event since it moved to ESPN and the fourth-largest audience to ever watch golf on cable. ESPN also had a two-day average of a 2.5 rating and 3.5 million viewers for its Masters coverage, flat in rating, but up 4% from 3.4 million viewers last year (Karp). GOLF DIGEST's Strege wrote a penalty for slow play assessed to 14-year-old golfer Tianlang Guan on Friday provided a "seamless segue from the end of the Golf Channel's 'Live from the Masters' show to the beginning of ESPN's telecast." Given seven hours to fill, Golf Channel "featured a couple of interesting interviews," one with Golf HOFer Raymond Floyd (GOLFDIGEST.com, 4/12).
DIGITAL GETDOWN: ESPN's digital platforms logged an average minute audience of 33,924 people during the four rounds of The Masters, up 113% from last year, according to data from Adobe and Omniture. During ESPN's three days of coverage from Wednesday-Friday, ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app logged 16.8 million total live minutes, up 747% from last year (ESPN).
The SEC "cleared its biggest obstacle" in its bid to launch a TV channel when it "reacquired the third-tier TV rights from IMG College, Learfield Sports and CBS Collegiate Sports Properties" in recent weeks, according to Smith & Ourand of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. The SEC and ESPN plan to launch the channel in August '14, and a formal announcement of the network is expected tomorrow. The conference over the next 15 months will "work with ESPN to build out its operation, possibly in Charlotte at ESPN Regional Television, and hire a staff, all while beginning talks with distributors." The third-tier rights "represent one football game, eight men’s basketball games, baseball, women’s basketball and all other nonrevenue sports that are not picked up by ESPN or a syndicated partner." The deal is an "important development because it means that ESPN will control the entire inventory of SEC football games, with the exception of CBS’s single game each week." That gives ESPN "a lot of flexibility to use specific games in markets where it’s having trouble gaining distribution." The rightsholders agreed to "give up TV rights valued at roughly" $15M a year. Sources said that those rightsholders in return will "lessen the guarantees to their schools by the same amount" -- a little more than $1M a year for each school -- "for the next several years." The conference also "gained control of its digital and sponsorship rights." That will "enable ESPN to have TV, digital and sponsorship rights for the conference under one umbrella." Digital rights for the SEC are "coming back from XOS Digital, the company that created the SEC Digital Network in 2009, for an undisclosed sum." Meanwhile, ESPN is "in the process of regaining its syndicated rights from Comcast SportsNet and Fox Sports Net." Both currently "buy SEC games from ESPN." The syndicated deal with CSN "ends after the 2013-14 school year," while Fox' deal "ends after the 2014-15 school year" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 4/15 issue).
NBC today announced that Dan Hicks will be the "next television voice of Notre Dame football," according to Richard Deitsch of SI.com. Hicks succeeds Tom Hammond, who has been NBC's "lead voice for Notre Dame football" since '92. Hicks "had filled in for Hammond for one game in each of the last two seasons and the speculation had existed for months that he would succeed Hammond this season." An NBC Sports spokesperson said of the move, "Notre Dame had no input, although they were informed once the decision was made." Deitsch reported Hicks' first Notre Dame assignment "comes this Saturday, when NBC Sports Network airs Notre Dame's annual Blue-Gold Game." Hicks said that NBC Sports execs "have not told him how long the assignment will last." The net also announced that it has "re-signed Hammond to a multi-year deal." Hicks said that he "planned to call Hammond shortly but wanted to wait until after his colleague signed a new contract." Hicks also will "continue to work as the lead commentator for NBC's live-event golf coverage (the conflicts are minimal) and will return for NBC's Olympic coverage of the 2014 Sochi Olympics and the 2016 Rio Olympics" (SI.com, 4/14). Hicks said that he "showed interest in the assignment by telling NBC executives how much he missed football." NBC "had no comment on why it replaced Hammond" (USA TODAY, 4/15).