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March 19, 2018updated 21 Mar 2018 7:13am

Tiger Woods isn’t winning yet, but viewing figures are. Here’s why

By MarketLine

Tiger Woods came up just short of winning the Valspar Championship earlier this month, but while he didn’t win, NBC sure did as viewing figures soared. Broadcasters will hope he continues his comeback as better ratings mean increased advertising revenues.

MarketLine data shows that while TV advertising revenue in the United States grew 2.0% in 2017 to reach $72.7 billion, this is still significantly down on 2015’s total of $78.8 billion. Corporate America is cutting advertising spend – P&G’s 2017 advertising budget was its lowest since 2006 for example –  and TV networks are having to work hard to attract spend.

NBC parent Comcast saw advertising revenues fall 8.8% in 2017 and is eager to reverse the trend. NBC‘s subsidiary Golf Channel spend significant money on golf programming and growing ad revenue is vital if this approach is to remain viable in the face of competition from CBS. Tiger in contention on a Sunday afternoon is therefore very welcome news.

Tiger delivers bumper ratings

Ultimately, Tiger Woods didn’t win but that didn’t stop his contending for the W delivering the PGA Tour’s largest television audience in five years. More eyes mean higher ad prices.

Golf Channel’s two-hour window before the NBC telecast on Sunday 11 March  earned a 1.65 rating, its highest-rated coverage for the lead-in window since it began in 2009. NBC told AP that the final round of the Valspar Championship earned a 5.11 overnight rating, up 190% over the previous year and the highest-rated PGA Tour broadcast since 2013 (excluding majors).

In fact, a look at ratings for last year’s majors reveals the full extent of ‘The Tiger Effect.’ Only The Masters (6.8) had a higher rating than the Valspar Championship Sunday broadcast, with 3.2 being the best of the rest. Tiger did not play in any of them and this is not a coincidence.

Woods must remain the focus of coverage

Many golf fans have been critical of the amount of coverage the 14-time major winner has received since coming back, especially when not contending, but there is an undeniable fact here: people tune in to watch Tiger Woods.

Broadcasters would be foolish to not show every shot he hits as they would effectively be cutting their own revenue streams. People want to see if he can recover from back surgery and challenge Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major wins. Broadcasters need to cash in while they can as Woods’ health is not guaranteed given the severity of his previous issues.

Expect more record ratings from Bay Hill

Tiger was once again in contention on Sunday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill and once the figures are released, it’s a safe bet that he will have triggered another ratings bonanza for NBC (including Golf Channel). You can bet that the network is gleefully rubbing its hands together at the thought of the advertising dollars about to flood in, particularly with the Masters just around the corner.