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Volume 27 No. 35
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Fox' Sunday U.S. Open Overnight Rating Is Third-Lowest On Record, But Well Above '14

Fox drew a 4.8 overnight rating for the final round of the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay yesterday from 2:00-10:45pm ET, which ended with Jordan Spieth grabbing his second straight major after a dramatic one-stroke win over Dustin Johnson and Louis Oosthuizen. That figure is up 45% from NBC’s record-low 3.3 overnight last year, which aired from 12:00-7:45pm and saw Martin Kaymer go wire-to-wire for an eight-stroke win at Pinehurst. The 4.8 overnight is the third-lowest figure for a Sunday telecast of the U.S. Open on record, behind only ’14 and ’88, the first year for which figures are available. The previous final round of the U.S. Open to air in primetime was in ’12, when Webb Simpson’s one-stroke win at Olympic Club over Graeme McDowell and Michael Thompson drew a 6.6. The ’08 final round on Sunday, which saw Tiger Woods force a Monday playoff with Rocco Mediate, drew an 8.5 overnight for the competition from Torrey Pines near San Diego. Fox' final-round coverage will deliver the net a primetime win among all nets and will likely be the net's best Sunday primetime average since January. Yesterday's telecast peaked at an 8.0 rating from 10:00-10:30pm. Host market Seattle-Tacoma led all local ratings with an 11.4, followed by Jacksonville (6.8) and Columbus (6.7). For the four days of coverage across FS1 and Fox, the nets averaged a 2.7 overnight, up 36% from NBC/ESPN last year, but down sharply from a 4.3 rating in '12.

U.S. OPEN OVERNIGHT RATINGS TREND FOR SUNDAY TELECAST
YEAR
NET
COURSE
RAT.
WINNER
STROKES
TIGER
'15
Fox
Chambers Bay*
4.7
Jordan Spieth
1
Cut
'14
NBC
Pinehurst
3.3
Martin Kaymer
8
DNP
'13
NBC
Merion
6.1
Justin Rose
2
T32
'12
NBC
Olympic*
6.6
Webb Simpson
1
T21
'11
NBC
Congressional
5.1
Rory McIlroy
8
DNP
'10
NBC
Pebble Beach*
6.9
Graeme McDowell
1
T4
'09
NBC
Bethpage Black^
5.1
Lucas Glover
2
T6
'08
NBC
Torrey Pines*!
8.5
Tiger Woods
Playoff
1
           

CHART NOTES: * = Aired in primetime on the East Coast. ^ = Final round concluded on Monday due to rain. ! = Playoff aired completely on Monday.

THROUGH THREE: Fox finished with an average of 4.2 million viewers for coverage of the third round on Saturday, marking the third-lowest Saturday coverage for the tourney on record. Fox’ average was up from NBC’s record-low third round last year (3.15 million viewers), but still the lowest for any West Coast third round (only ’10, ’12 and ’15 aired in primetime on the East Coast). Saturday’s coverage peaked at 5.0 million viewers from 10:00-10:30pm and will likely give Fox a primetime win among all broadcast nets. Meanwhile, Fox and FS1 averaged 1.97 million viewers for second-round coverage on Friday, up 48% from last year’s daytime coverage on ESPN and NBC. Similar daytime coverage in ’13 averaged 2.1 million viewers. Coverage in ’12, which saw ESPN handle the primetime coverage on Friday, averaged 2.91 million viewers when Tiger Woods finished the round in a tie for first place (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).

Fox announcers let the picture tell the story
on Johnson's 18th-green three putt
SUNDAY SILENCE: SI.com's Richard Deitsch wrote given that Johnson’s runner-up finish "was nearly as big a story (maybe even bigger) than Spieth’s win, Fox owed it to viewers to let them know why he never appeared on their air afterward." If a network decides to "invest in a tournament for four days as a viewer, you need to know why Johnson isn’t talking and that you made the attempt to interview him" (SI.com, 6/21). GOLF WORLD's John Strege notes there was "mostly silence" from the Fox booth as Johnson "went from having a short eagle putt to win to three-putting to lose." Perhaps Fox' Joe Buck "was making a point to those concerned he'd talk over a critical moment" (GOLF WORLD, 6/22 issue). Bleacher Report’s Dan Levy wrote, “What's amazing with Fox, is that after Dustin's finish, they didn't have Greg Norman talk about what losing feels like. Silence.” Golf Digest’s Ron Sirak: “The only entity who had a worse experience at #USOpenChambersBay today that Dustin Johnson was FOX.” The Charlotte Observer’s Rick Bonnell: “Fox didn't do this post-tournament so well.” But Show Sports Media’s Jon Show wrote Buck last night provided the "best major golf winner interview in my memory” when he talked to Spieth on the 18th green after his win. LPGA Chief Communications Officer Kraig Kann wrote, “NOT a back-handed compliment - that was Buck's best moment of the week right there interviewing” (TWITTER.com, 6/21).

ALL DAY LONG: In Dallas, Barry Horn writes Fox "delivered in less than storybook fashion" yesterday. The net "practically ignored Spieth early in Sunday’s round," but he "wasn’t alone." Horn: "Everyone not named Jason Day played second fiddle early. ... Fox gave Day, battling vertigo, top billing. Early on, Day walking merited split-screen coverage with players hitting balls" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 6/22). Awful Announcing's Twitter feed stated, "Fox just spent the last five minutes on a split screen of Jason Day walking. We may have reached the saturation point here." SI's Alan Shipnuck: "I'm getting dizzy watching Jason Day make this walk." Author Joe Posnanski: "Not a fan of way Fox is split-screening the Jason Day walk ... like it's the O.J. chase." Golf writer Dan Jenkins: "With all that's happening, Fox seems determined to follow Jason Day until he faints." Rivals.com's Josh Helmholdt: "@FOXGOLF following Jason Day walk between every hole is very transparent. Let's be honest - they're hoping he falls" (TWITTER.com, 6/21). 

NICE ADJUSTMENT ON THE FLY: GOLFWEEK's Martin Kaufmann wrote the big story during the second round on Friday was Day's "health, and on that subject, Fox did several good things." Fox "captured Zapruder-quality footage of Day collapsing while walking to the ninth green, his final hole of the day." Audio caught Day "telling the medic that the problem was 'my eyes; I can’t focus.'" Fox then "made an interesting decision" to send Norman, "who has been a mentor to fellow Australian Day, to try to talk with Day at the scoring trailer." Though Norman "didn’t return to the 18th tower with any great insights into Day’s condition, I liked the way Fox ad-libbed to try to take advantage of Norman’s long relationship with Day" (GOLFWEEK.com, 6/20). GOLF DIGEST's Strege wrote Fox for its part "did a commendable job of covering" the Day incident. While Norman left the booth to go talk to Day. Former USGA Exec Dir David Fay, who Fox is using as its rules expert, "came on and explained that Day could receive medical attention and then resume playing, as he did, though still somewhat wobbly" (GOLFDIGEST.com, 6/19).

Fox' audio of Spieth and his caddie was one
of the network's high points
WELCOME TO THE SHOW: In N.Y., Justin Terranova wrote the use of a top-five leaderboard constantly on the screen "was one of the differences that improved the viewer experience throughout the first day-and-a-half of the tournament." It "informs, while not overwhelming the screen and rotates out when showing the graphic for the on-screen golfer’s score, hole and shot number." The constant use of the shot tracer "was another area of improvement, particularly at a links-style course like Chambers Bay, where it is easier to lose the ball against the patchy background" (N.Y. POST, 6/20). In L.A., Chris Erskine wrote the most effective on-screen graphic "was the digital vapor trail that shows the amplitude of tee shots, an effect we've seen before." Surprisingly engaging "were super slow-mo replays of a club striking the ball, producing a volcano of dirt, grass, dinosaur dust and whatever else serves at the mattress for this odd public course." However, Fox' "topographic enhancement of undulating greens, known as the 'Shaded Green' system, was underwhelming." The swales "were almost as evident without the magic trick" (L.A. TIMES, 6/21). SI.com's Deitsch wrote, "I thought the shot tracer was incredibly cool and helpful, and a must for future tournaments. I liked the perpetual leader board on screen, though I wished Fox showed the extended leader board more." Fox "found its best moments in the final 40 minutes of Sunday’s play." The production "thankfully let natural sound carry the broadcast over the final minutes." The on-course audio with Spieth and his caddy on No. 18 "was great." Deitsch: "I liked Fox getting a camera on Johnson carrying his baby son (on Father’s Day) after the finish. This was Fox finding its groove" (SI.com, 6/21).

LISTEN UP: GOLFWEEK'S Kaufmann wrote Fox "has done a better job than any other network at picking up on-course audio, such as player-caddie conversations." The net is "already better than its competition on that point" (GOLFWEEK.com, 6/20). In Tacoma, Craig Hill notes viewers could "pick up more interaction between players and caddies and some other exchanges." Spieth on Friday was calling the 18th hole when played as a par-4 the "dumbest hole I've ever played in my life." Mics also "picked up the exchange" between Day and the on-scene medics after his collapse on Friday (Tacoma NEWS TRIBUNE, 6/22). ESPN’s Rick Reilly wrote, “Say what u want about FOX but they did a beautiful job of letting us hear the player-caddy back + forth. Like being inside the huddle. Kudos” (TWITTER.com, 6/21).

UP-AND-DOWN ROUND: Golf magazine's Josh Sens noted the "glitches in the coverage ... were many." Sens: "Glitchy shot tracking. Shoddy information-gathering. Embarrassing bloopers, as when David Fay repeatedly referred to Dustin Johnson as Justin. ... Not a disaster, but a long way from the revolution we were promised." Golf magazine's Joe Passov: "I wish we could have seen a bit more from the other players who were zooming onto the leaderboard. ... Need better graphics other than the Top 4 on the screen leaderboard. Is there something so terrible about the occasional scroll, or to take one minute to run through the entire field, rather than having the cameras hone in on the broadcasters so often?" But SI Golf's Jeff Ritter said, "I liked Fox's liberal use of shot-tracer, and the extra microphones that picked up player-caddie banter." SI's Gary Van Sickle noted Fox is "going to need some time." Van Sickle: "They threw this together in a year and a half. They need reps" (GOLF.com, 6/22). GOLFWEEK's Kaufmann wrote Fox on Saturday "gave far too much air time to panels of announcers" instead of showing "live action." Kaufmann: "I’ve never been able to wrap my brain around why a network would pay hundreds of millions of dollars for the rights to show major tournaments, only to spend significant blocks of time showing announcers rather than live action." Still, with each day, Fox did a "better job of integrating graphics." The regular use of the ball tracer "was especially important given how difficult it is to track ball flight against the tawny Chambers Bay backdrop" (GOLFWEEK.com, 6/20).

STAY ON THE RANGE: USA TODAY's Chris Chase wrote Fox' coverage on Thursday "was a moderate surprise, but still far from perfect and a major step-down from NBC." Chase: "I’m sure there are some people who like the tee-shot tracer. Those people probably also enjoyed the glowing puck." Chase listed further complaints, including "way too many sound effects" and the fact that the the FoxGO streaming was a "full 82 seconds behind the real telecast which is inexcusable in this day" (USATODAY.com, 6/19). In N.Y., Phil Mushnick writes Fox "tried too hard to do everything except what most viewers always hope for: to see live golf." Saturday’s telecast "opened with a long come-on encouraging those already watching to watch, until, finally, a live shot of Phil Mickelson teeing off on one" (N.Y. POST, 6/22).