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Volume 26 No. 89
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Fox Draws Best U.S. Open Viewership With Primetime Help

Fox and FS1 averaged 3.67 million viewers for the four rounds of the U.S. Open last week, marking the networks’ best figure since acquiring rights to the event before the ’15 event, and best for any U.S. Open since NBC and ESPN averaged 3.93 million in ’13. With the event being held in Pebble Beach, allowing for a big chunk of the windows to air in primetime, Fox and FS1 were up 28% from last year, when the event from Shinnecock Hills averaged 2.86 million. All four rounds posted gains this year. On Sunday, Fox averaged 7.31 million viewers for Gary Woodland’s three-stroke win, marking the most-watched final round at the U.S. Open since Justin Rose won by two strokes in ’13 at Merion. Fox also was up 44% from Brooks Koepka’s one-stroke win last year. West Palm Beach was the top market on Sunday with an 8.4 local rating, followed by Tampa-St. Pete (8.3) and Ft. Myers-Naples (8.1) (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).

FOUR-DAY VIEWERSHIP AVERAGE FOR U.S. OPEN
YEAR
NETWORKS
COURSE
VIEWERS (000)
'19
Fox/FS1
Pebble Beach
3,673
'18
Fox/FS1
Shinnecock Hills
2,863
'17
Fox/FS1
Erin Hills
2,686
'16
Fox/FS1
Oakmont
2,434
'15
Fox/FS1
Chambers Bay
3,499
'14
NBC/ESPN
Pinehurst No. 2
2,441
'13
NBC/ESPN
Merion
3,930
'12
NBC/ESPN
Olympic
4,821
'11
NBC/ESPN
Congressional
3,122
'10
NBC/ESPN
Pebble Beach
4,266
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FINALLY FIGURED IT OUT: GOLF DIGEST's John Strege noted there was a "lack of substantive noise" about Fox Sports' coverage of the U.S. Open, "save for those on Twitter predisposed to disliking Fox doing golf." Since acquiring USGA rights in '15, Fox has "buffed and polished its product to a sheen and it's perceived deficiencies are no longer an issue." Fox has "two quality sets of anchor/analyst" in the Joe Buck-Paul Azinger and Shane Bacon-Brad Faxon pairings. Bacon has "been a pleasant surprise in his growing role on Fox broadcasts of its various USGA events" (GOLFDIGEST.com, 6/17). Meanwhile, in Gainesville, Pat Dooley writes the Fox broadcast was "great" visually, but Azinger's commentary "forced me to switch the sound on my other TV to baseball several times." Dooley: "He seemed blown away when someone who hits the ball 350 yards regularly hit the ball 350 yards. ... Joe Buck is fantastic doing anything, but the rest left a lot to be desired" (GAINESVILLE SUN, 6/18).

EASY TO SAY YES: CBS' Jim Nantz yesterday talked to Dan Patrick about his Saturday afternoon cameo on Fox' coverage, saying he was unaware when Buck and Azinger first mentioned on-air the idea of him making an appearance. He said, "Everyone that I know in my sphere was, 'Hey, are you going to show up? Are you going to do this?' Well, of course I'll do it. It was a nice invitation." Nantz added, "It was really fun going on with Joe and Paul and the Fox team. They could not have been nicer. And really, it was not that complicated. I just came down to visit with them. We spoke for about 10 minutes, shared a few laughs, and when I wasn't obligated to do something, I was sitting back and enjoying their coverage" ("The Dan Patrick Show," 6/17).