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Open Championship On ESPN Down 28%

Pete Dougherty reports a 2.6 overnight for the final round with Rory McIlroy holding off Rickie Fowler and Sergio Garcia.

The rating is a 28% drop from last year's Mickelson win at Muirfield and ESPN's lowest since airing the Open exclusively beginning in 2010.

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Reader Comments (34)

All slightly worrying. St Andrews next year should draw back the audience surely?
07.22.2014 | Unregistered CommenterRu
Should just be Carnoustie and St. Andrews back and forth.
07.22.2014 | Unregistered Commenterbp23
Could it be that the last 2 hours only showed 3 guys? I've ripped on networks for showing Woods walking, chewing, whatever, over other guys actually playing shots.

In fairness, ESPN was just as bad on Sunday. I had it on the PVR, and I was doing a lot of fast forwarding.
07.22.2014 | Unregistered CommenterPat(another one)
Last year's event at Muirfield was really outstanding in terms of the venue, the last day's leaderboard, and the ultimate winner. Tough to top that.
07.22.2014 | Unregistered CommenterBrianS
Again, should I really care about the ratings? Until there's a risk they will not televise the Open, I don't care how many other people are watching.I know I will be.
07.22.2014 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Matthew IV
I bet the ratings were up in Ireland and on the Continent.

Let's not be so myopic.
07.22.2014 | Unregistered CommenterGreg V
And, by the way, I watched every minute on the weekend this year, way up from last year.

But Neilson didn't include me in their scientific poll.
07.22.2014 | Unregistered CommenterGreg V
How about the fact that if you don't have cable or satellite can't watch!!!!!! No streaming, nothing. I am an avid fan of the Open, and didn't get to see a shot.
07.22.2014 | Unregistered Commentergordon langseth
gordon, there must have been 100 sites streaming The British Open for free.....wizwig tv would be a good place to start next time.
07.22.2014 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
Never quite understood why the R&A went to all-cable ESPN instead of putting weekend rounds on ABC as in the past. I guess ABC is basically defunct as an outlet for big-time sports, unless ESPN deigns to allow it. I may be old fashioned but think an event loses a little somethign when it is not on one of the traditional "networks.''

Surprised ratings drop isn't bigger, but Mickelson wasn't leading last year until late in the final round.
07.22.2014 | Unregistered CommenterMedia driven
Niche sport, niche audience.
07.22.2014 | Unregistered CommenterAG
Niche sport indeed. Who really cares about golf? No cable here. Watched the back nine Sunday on the BBC feed through Wiziwig. Good reception that faltered only when I was distracted by click bait. No commercials. Unobtrusive commentary from knowledgeable people. Adequate camera work. Prince Rupert and the R&A are going to royally f*ck that up pretty soon. Alas.
07.22.2014 | Unregistered CommenterKLG

I'm guessing it is largely in part so that ESPN can keep justifying their insane rights fees that they charge each provider for carrying it. That's really where the revenue is, the commercial revenue looks small in comparison.

I thought ESPN coverage wasn't great, but what do you expect? They show few tournaments a year, so it's expected they aren't going to be CBS or NBC. Didn't get any play here, but did anyone watch the Saturday coverage when they cut to David Duval and Rinaldi? Was seriously one of the biggest LOL's I've had while watching TV. They decided to show highlights of groups that they weren't showing otherwise. So for some reason they were showing shots from Shane Lowry and Matteo Manassero's group for God knows what reason. Duval was hung out to dry when they cut to Manassero in the left fescue grass on a hole and Duval says, "And here was an amazing shot" (the shot is running towards a greenside bunker and goes in it) "Oh, well not so good now!" I may have been one of the few to see it, but it was pretty darn painful. They did a better job on Sunday of bringing him in the booth.
07.22.2014 | Unregistered CommenterChicago John
ESPN and golf broadcasts should not be in the same sentence. During a talking head(s) session, I heard Rory's six-shot lead being described as being a touchdown ahead.

07.22.2014 | Unregistered CommenterNevrupNevrin
Used ESPNs streaming coverage and watched the BBC feed strictly. Peter Alliss/Ken Brown much better than stabbing my eardrums listening to Paul Azinger. Plus, absolutely zero filler material.
07.22.2014 | Unregistered Commentercameron
My question is: who WOULDN'T expect a ratings drop when: A) the Saturday leader has a six-shot lead and B) said leader is not an American?

Last year's broadcast started strong and GAINED viewers as fan fav Phil Mickelson over the course of the broadcast carved his way into contention and then the lead. People who know golf already saw Rory win majors by eight and by eight again so why get up early when you think you KNOW the outcome?

Rory is loved around the world but let's face it: Americans prefer to watch their own.... especially if they've been stars for a long time such as Phil and Tiger.... even Tom Watson.

For the record, I watched every second of the weekend coverage because I'm a serious golf fan. I don't care who's broadcasting or who's announcing -- the British Open is a major so I'm going to enjoy watching history unfold, no matter how it happens.

(But -- of course -- I recorded the Entire Thing on the DVR, started viewing about an hour into the broadcast and thus was spared the agony of sitting through even ONE commercial.)
07.22.2014 | Unregistered CommenterBenSeattle
That commercial for the whiskey that starts off with a drawing of some black columns has to be the worst commercial of all time. Saw that about 35 times and I still have no idea what the brand is. Just Terrible. Now that one with Ray Liotta is spot on. Even I want to go out and drink that crap 1800!
07.22.2014 | Unregistered Commenterv60golfer
Could be that those of us who don't have cable didn't watch. Why don't networks still broadcast sports? Tried to turn on Breakfast at Wimbledon only to discover NBC doesn't have the rights anymore. Just saying.
07.22.2014 | Unregistered CommenterJordan
I haven't watch much of the "Open" since the rights were sold to ESPN. Count me as one of those contributing to lower ratings. Pay for view national sporting events put money before the sport.
07.22.2014 | Unregistered Commenterpanco
To people who say say that golf is boring to watch on TV I say, "no way dude, have you ever seen curling or cricket?"
Psst KLG, d/l the freeware XBMC app and install the sportsdevil plugin. It gives you all the wiziwig et al links with a scaleable viewing window and no pop up/click bait malarkey.
It's an unintuitive pain to set up, but worth it.
07.22.2014 | Unregistered Commenterdbh
I like how people think that they are entitled to watch pro sports:

1. For Free
2. With no commercials.

How do they think these events are paid for ?
07.22.2014 | Unregistered CommenterBrianS
Gosh I feel pretty bad?? I thought ESPN coverage was fine...actually watched almost all of it...I did have it DVR'd. There is only so much drama that can be realistically shown...with a six shot lead. Fowler and Garcia made it interesting and quality of golf was high. Beat the US Open for excitement..for me this year.
Like someone said...until the ratings are so bad they stop televising golf..I'm not concerned. Two weeks ago there where 4 tournaments I was interested in..Scottish Open, U S Senior Open, John Deere and Women's British Open..That's a lot of televised golf!!!
07.22.2014 | Unregistered Commentermarmooskapaul
Chicago John,

Saw that Mannaserro / Duval mishap and chuckled also...but I think Mannaserro holed the bunker shot for eagle so maybe they weren't too far off?

Scott Van Pelt took announcing to a new level of annoying for me this weekend...I think he must figure we all want to hear his voice more than anything else!?!
07.22.2014 | Unregistered CommenterJS
And were all wondering how FOX will do handling the US Open LOL.
07.22.2014 | Unregistered CommenterViz
Rory by 6 and no Tiger or Phil...not rocket science.
07.22.2014 | Unregistered Commenterjjshaka
I was just disappointed that ESPN hardly showed Lebron at all.
Nielson ratings are out of date. Why even bother with this? Does this include people streaming, No. so why bother. Nielson ratings are from like 50 years ago. Its time is way past over.
07.22.2014 | Unregistered Commenterv60golfer
No, I don't feel entitled to that at all, Brian. But, on commercial networks there is little actual coverage of the event, beyond the preconceived notions of the director/producer. Everyone here wants to see all, or most, of the players. Ok, there is elf. And the Justice. Anyway, CBS/NBC show something, but usually not golf, for 5-6 minutes and then a Cialis commercial interspersed with several Titleist et al. ads. Who really gives a sh*t about how many players are using a ProV1 this week? That includes the Masters, btw. Joe Ford might say we get 56 minutes of "golf action" every hour, but that's just not so. We might get 56 minutes sans commercials, but a lot of that time is filler: recaps from yesterday, what happened this morning, profiles, Masters Memories, or the equivalent if that trope has worn itself down to the nub. So, while someone or something makes it available, or I am not in London as I was for the birth of George AND the Open last year ;-) I will watch the BBC for a few hours each year. While it lasts. Otherwise, I'll watch what's on at Amen Corner or 15-16 or a featured group and play golf the other afternoons. Or do the laundry if it's raining too hard to play. The commercial networks have brought this on themselves. Too much is never enough for them.
07.22.2014 | Unregistered CommenterKLG
I watched The Open on ABC at 1500hrs OTA, uncompressed HD for free.

Well not really for free, I did have to endure numerous breaks, but tradition dictates the old-fashioned viewer must hit the latrine or refill beverages during this time . . . oh, and also I made sure sure I was topped off with whatever big pharma wanted me to absorb.

I was grateful for the chance to see the event, except for the compulsion to rush to the ER after four hours.
07.22.2014 | Unregistered CommenterLudell Hogwaller

I saw what you were talking about and had the same reaction. Still not sure why they had Lowry and Manassero highlights out of the blue like that, or why Duval was placed on that side of the camera.
07.22.2014 | Unregistered CommenterGW
Re Geoff's update on the shots shown: 269 shots in total, 4 hours for the last group to play and maybe another hour of two of broadcast time? Let's call it 5 hours. Less commercials, 4 hours. 240 minutes of golf, 269 shots. That's a whole lot of golf we missed and a whole lot of mindless talking we had to listen to. And viewership is down, wow, who'd a guessed?
07.22.2014 | Unregistered Commentermeefer
Watched bbc feed via "watch espn" on both Saturday and Sunday. Was a treat. No commercials. No endless string of round recaps. Limited blimp shot / leaderboard cutaways. No mid-round intvws. No essays. No Ian Mcshane. Ltd. highlights of prior Opens. VERY limited Tiger / Phil. No Scott Van Pelt thinking he is British or has some gravitas in the game of golf (which he does not). No Azinger. Limited screen time showing guys on the range in lieu of live competitive golf on the course. Limited "taped birdies" where espn pretends to cut live to a guy they haven't showed all day, who miraculously makes a long putt or chips in (of course it goes in because shot was made 10 mins. before). All of this, plus Peter Alliss! Best golf broadcast I have seen in years. Put the garbage cbs, nbc and espn golf broadcasts to shame. Probably showed 5x the number of shots as the espn broadcast.
07.23.2014 | Unregistered Commentercjk5h
07.23.2014 | Unregistered Commenterwendy

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