SBD/June 16, 2014/Media

NBC's U.S. Open Final Round Overnight Rating Down Big As Kaymer Wins By Eight

NBC could end up with lowest U.S. Open final round audience on record
NBC earned a 3.3 overnight rating for the final round of the U.S. Open, which saw Martin Kaymer complete a wire-to-wire win by eight strokes over Rickie Fowler and Erik Compton. That figure, which could likely end up being the lowest figure for a Sunday at the U.S. Open on record, is down 46% from a 6.1 overnight for last year’s final round from Merion Golf Club in Pennsylvania, which saw Justin Rose hold off Phil Mickelson and Jason Day by two strokes. The 3.3 overnight yesterday is down 35% from a 5.1 overnight for Rory McIlroy’s eight-stroke win at the ’11 event, which was held at Congressional Country Club in Maryland. The ’12 U.S. Open aired in primetime from Olympic Club in S.F. NBC also earned a 2.6 overnight for third-round coverage on Saturday, down 41% from a 4.4 rating last year (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor). In L.A., Bill Dwyre writes NBC was "telecasting a rout" yesterday, as Kaymer "destroyed a field of golfers and a much-anticipated TV drama." Dwyre: "It had Secretariat in the home stretch for five hours. It was saddled with trying, and failing, to put lipstick on a competitive pig. ... You could feel the ratings needle dropping like the thermometer mercury in January in Milwaukee." Dwyre suggests the on-course results might have had Fox officials "looking at each other and saying, 'For this, we paid a billion dollars?'" (L.A. TIMES, 6/16). 

SIGNING OFF: This year's U.S. Open marked the last one that NBC and ESPN will cover until at least '27, as Fox takes over four-round coverage as part of a 12-year contract beginning next year. NBC signed off from yesterday's final round with host Dan Hicks saying to analyst Johnny Miller, "We know we're coming to an end here. It's a moment that we really didn't want to ever get here, but many of you know this is the final U.S. Open telecast for all of our NBC crew. I just want to say to you, Johnny, what a privilege it's been to sit next to you here in a championship that you loved for so many years. It's been the highlight of my career and I've had the best seat in the house with the best analyst that has ever done this game." Miller said, "Twenty years has been a lot of fun. I always believe there's a time and season for everything and I thank the USGA and, of course, NBC for giving me that opportunity. There have been a lot of good memories, hasn’t there, a lot of great champions, a lot of great moments." Hicks shook Miller's hand and said, "Partner, it's been a great ride." Hicks added during the closing credits of the telecast, "It has been an honor and a privilege to document our national championship of golf for all of you. We'll miss doing that but as we bid one last U.S. Open goodbye from Pinehurst, we'll never forget how much fun this 20-year ride has been" ("U.S. Open," NBC, 6/15). ESPN's Scott Van Pelt earlier in the day said, "Somewhere along the line, it became a badge of honor to be part of this group. ... I’m not telling you the people that do it after us can’t do it better, but what I am telling you -- because I know it to be true -- is you cannot put more of yourself, you cannot put more of your heart, you cannot put more effort forth to covering an event" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 6/15).

GOING OUT IN STYLE: GOLF DIGEST's John Strege wrote NBC "tactfully had avoided any mention of its Open denouement during the golf, leaving the stage to Kaymer." Only once did it "hint that the end was in sight" (GOLFDIGEST.com, 6/15). The AP's Joedy McCreary wrote a "handshake, those held-back tears and a highlight montage marked the end of the network's final broadcast." NBC had televised the U.S. Open "every year since 1995 at Shinnecock Hills." The net yesterday "left most of the sentimentality out of the broadcast," while Miller "came through with plenty of his usual blunt, biting commentary" (AP, 6/15). Fox Sports VP/Communications Dan Bell wrote on his Twitter feed, "Terrific job by Tommy Roy, Dan Hicks, Johnny Miller & the entire NBC Sports golf crew this weekend at the US Open. First class all the way" (TWITTER.com, 6/15). SPORTS ON EARTH's Peter Richmond wrote the NBC team on Saturday "never allowed itself to be the story." Its tributes to the late Payne Stewart "struck just the right balance," and Miller was "at his sardonic, frank best." The "requisite puffy feature segments to kill time? Some worked wonderfully." But Richmond wrote, "Am I alone in not mourning the departure of Jimmy Roberts' 'essays?'" (SPORTSONEARTH.com, 6/15).

MILLER REFLECTS ON TWO DECADES IN BOOTH: Miller spoke with Golfweek.com following Sunday's broadcast and said 20 years covering the event with NBC "is a pretty dang good run." Miller said, "We had a great run. If somebody had said I could have done 20 Opens, I'd have been very happy and I'm still happy. I'm hoping Fox will do a good job and keep it going, but our team was so dedicated to this championship." Miller called it a "good week" and said, "I didn't cry on TV and I feel like I went out with some honesty and truth." He said, "I've always tried, if there's something in my heart, I'm going to say it. A lot of times people don’t want to hear it, but I feel like that's what I bring to the table -- that I'm true to myself and I'm true to the game. ... People seem to enjoy that. Some people don't like it, but you can't please everybody. It's been a good run for me" (GOLFWEEK.com, 6/15).

JOHNNY ON THE SPOT: In Denver, Dusty Saunders writes Miller "regularly showed signs of emotion during the weekend" (DENVER POST, 6/16). In California, Michael Lev wrote, "I'm going to miss Miller. No golf analyst is more blunt and bold than Miller, who’s just as willing to criticize a superstar as a PGA Tour rookie" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 6/14). YAHOO SPORTS' Brian Murphy wrote "nobody in golf entertains" like Miller. He is to golf "what John Madden is to football and Dick Vitale is to basketball." Murphy: "It will so not be the same without him next year" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 6/15). Golf writer Ron Green Jr. in a special to the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER wrote Miller will "be missed," and incoming Fox analyst Greg Norman "has a tough act to follow." Green: "The same goes for Fox Sports, which is new to golf and hopefully won't create a bouncing transformer like that thing in the corner of my television screen during NFL telecasts." If The Masters "has a tradition unlike any other, the U.S. Open has a voice unlike any other," and it "won't be the same" without Miller (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 6/15).

TOMMY BOY: In N.Y., Karen Crouse profiled NBC golf producer Tommy Roy, and wrote anybody who "thought Roy might be content simply to make the cut" in his last U.S. Open has "never worked for him." Roy was a business administration major at the Univ. of Arizona in the late '70s when he "got his first job in TV, as a runner for NBC at the Tucson Open." He "essentially never left, advancing through the ranks under the tutelage" of former NBC Sports Chair Dick Ebersol. Roy said that he "tried to give every player" in a U.S. Open field "his 15 seconds." Roy: “If they’ve earned the right to be in our national championship, they’ve earned the right to be on TV” (N.Y. TIMES, 6/15).

A NEW VOICE: GOLF.com's weekly roundtable discussed the tournament's shift to Fox, and SI's Mark Godich writes NBC has the "best broadcast teams in golf," and Fox would be "wise to hire 'em all away." SI's Alan Shipnuck: "I was never dazzled by NBC. I'd like to see Fox continue to hire nothing but new voices, a la Norman. It's definitely time to freshen up the golf telecasts." SI's Eamon Lynch added, "Johnny Miller remains the best play-by-play guy in the game and not having him call a major is a loss for fans. But his lieutenants were dull and stale. Fox may do better with fresh voices, even if they are relatively untested. They should start by hiring Brad Faxon, who offered considerably more insight on Golf Channel than was provided by Peter Jacobsen." Meanwhile, Golf magazine's Joe Passov writes Golf Channel's Brandel Chamblee and Golf HOFer Tom Weiskopf would be an "immediate boost to the credibility factor" (GOLF.com, 6/16).
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