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NBC's First Open Off To Solid Ratings Start

Sports Media Watch breaks down some of the numbers and the real eye opener may be Saturday's third round out-rating the U.S. Open's, which was in the evening presumably when there would be more eyeballs. But who knows! Maybe golfers like their televised play early and June summer evening golf.

From SMW's report:

The 2.75 is the highest for third round coverage of the British Open since 2013 (3.1). The last time third round coverage aired on a broadcast network — ABC in 2009 — it earned a 2.4 overnight.

Of note, Saturday’s telecast scored a higher overnight than the third round of the U.S. Open on FOX (2.5). Keep in mind the U.S. Open aired in a later timeslot (11 AM-8 PM, versus 9 AM-2:30 PM).

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Reader Comments (52)

Two unanticipated and surprising thoughts: 1) glad to have Miller in the booth -- I missed (ducks, covers head) his color and insights at US Open. 2) NBC needs a bit of that FOX tech mojo. Additional shot trackers and split screen with hole layout & shot are nice touches for all courses but especially Open course with vague sight lines.
07.18.2016 | Unregistered CommenterMark W
I thought the NBC coverage made Fox Sports coverage of US Open look awesome....................I give NBC/GC a B- and Fox a B+/A1
07.18.2016 | Unregistered CommenterBobby McGee
I thought it was a good broadcast, I enjoyed both the NBC crew as well as the GC folks. It was really cool having Faldo there doing the GC segments - it did really serve to compare him to Johnny, which in my opinion he compared favorably to.

The shot tracer and side by side graphic tracer, yes they need more of it. It was puzzling in some cases they didn't even use it for all of the guys in a group - like the tech was hustling up to jump in there and run the thing. I"m sure it won't be long before that becomes just about standard usage for all tee balls and long fairway shots.
07.18.2016 | Unregistered CommenterBrianS
Geoff, how about doing a post, or better yet, doing a podcast with all the producers in golf television and grill them on why they let announcers talk over player/caddy conversations and epic moments.

-PM/Bones conversations got talked over a lot
-Hicks talked over Stenson's walk up 18, winning putt and walk around with the trophy.

It's one the biggest beefs by viewer for years, decades.
07.18.2016 | Unregistered CommenterPaul
The Sunday broadcast to me seemed better than Saturday as they appeared to cut back on the 'comedy' bits for the most part and stuck to the last group which others dislike but I think in this unusual situation was the right call. The story was how far ahead these two were and so to throw in coverage of guys 10-15 shots back would be a waste of time.
07.18.2016 | Unregistered CommenterGriffin
@Paul: Completely agree - lamenting that important moments from Open Championships will no longer be allowed to breathe like with the BBC coverage. Where's Frank Chirkinian when you need him...
07.18.2016 | Unregistered CommenterPJ
This spectacular event was the Golf Gods' way of repaying NBC for getting screwed by the USGA.
07.18.2016 | Unregistered Commenterjohnginpbg
+1 PJ.

The report said: "The 2.75 is the highest for third round coverage of the British Open since 2013 (3.1)." Hmmm... who was in contention in 2013? Phil somebody... Mickelson! Say, wasn't that Mickelson fellow also in contention during this year's Open? You don't suppose THAT'S what drew more viewers to the Open Championship, rather than the subjective qualities of the network's content or the time of broadcast airing?
07.18.2016 | Unregistered CommenterPersimmonious
Paul & PJ +1,000,000

I was beginning to believe Dan Hicks, along with Johnny Miller and Gary Koch, were paid by the spoken word. They never shut up, especially at those crucial moments when player and caddie are conversing. Sorry Mr. Miller, but most of us want to hear how they will play the next shot, not how you would do it.

Ya think any of the Bristolites are a little bummed about getting rid of the last year of their contract cover The Open? NBC got quite a gift with that unreal Sunday of golf. I hated to see it end and was hoping the USGA would find a way to penalize Stenson 3 strokes to force a playoff!
07.18.2016 | Unregistered CommenterAJ
Two observations. First is the organizers absolute INSISTENCE on announcers using only "The Open" as the name of the tournament. At least twice Johnny Miller said "British Open" but immediately, instantaneously remembered to follow orders and corrected himself by saying "The Open." Sorry boys, to me it's always been the "British Open. " You know, the way it's been for the last 50 years.

Disappointing was the Stenson interview with Mike Tirico. THREE TIMES Tirco used the ancient and lame crutch question "how does it feel?" How does it feel to win... how does it feel to play well... how does it feel to break the jinx, etc. Anytime an interviewer says "how does it feel" I immediately lose respect. It's way too cliche and too easy. Other than that, pretty good broadcast.
07.18.2016 | Unregistered CommenterBenseattle
@Ben - not only is their the awkward British Open/Open issue, but it was only a few (last ?) years ago when they used the "Open Championship" as the name, which now obviously has been shortened to just "The Open".
07.18.2016 | Unregistered CommenterBrianS
Coverage was awful until it became a 2 man race and they didn't have to cover anyone else. Took no expertise at all, show Phil and Henrik hit then break for commercial....then repeat. Golf Channel was a trainwreck on Thurs. and Fri.
07.18.2016 | Unregistered CommenterConvert
@Benseattle, @BrianS...the thing about this that annoys me is then next week many of these same people who freak out when someone says British Open will have no problem referring to it as the 'US PGA'. The European Tour website is big on this. It is the PGA Championship, that's what is called and if we are supposed to call it 'The Open Championship' or whatever they are going with now then at least be consistent. Also occasionally hear the 'US Masters'.
07.18.2016 | Unregistered CommenterGriffin
Hopefully the tracer technology will become more pervasive and eventually be shown on almost every shot.
I guess we should call it the open championship of the world.
07.18.2016 | Unregistered CommenterPress Agent
Does anyone else think the lack of ProTracer usage is $ driven. NBC sold the sponsorship to Scottrade, who then requests that no other instances (or very limited) of ProTracer gets shown. Wouldn't want to "devalue the synergies of our corporate partners".
07.18.2016 | Unregistered CommenterNC Phyllis
Fox Sports does a good job of referring to the season's third major as the "British Open," which makes sense when broadcasting a different major millions know as simply, the open. The Brits can call their major whatever they want to call it, but the recent insistence of American television coverage to refrain from using "British Open"--even occasionally or as a way to disambiguate it from the U.S. Open--shows how little they respect their viewing audience. Of course NBC probably doesn't mind getting back at the USGA, and by referring to the third major as simply "the Open" they can signal lesser importance toward the "other" open.

Of course acting as if the game's oldest tournament is also its most prestigious (a very dubious claim) ignores the fact it needed American golf talent in the 50's, 60's, and 70's to grow in significance. Taking one quantifiable measure, its purse size was historically much less than the U.S. Open's, and stayed that way until around the turn of the century. The open purses in 1970 were U.S.: $195,700 and British (converted to USD): $96,000, even with a much stronger pound sterling. Looking at sheer number of participants, the U.S. Open had 150 players in 1950, while the British never that many competitors until 1971 (it had only 93 players in 1950). It became a "major" because Arnold Palmer (and before him Hogan) gave it significance that American professionals associated with the Masters or the (U.S.) Open. Just as American golf owes its origins and has roots to the British Isles and Scotland and particular, professional golf around the world owes its existence to American professional golf. This needs to be recognized.

All this to say old world sentiments about major championship golf are conveniently ignoring certain historical factors when propping up the British. But it is still a great tournament. It is a unique style of golf that we don't see much of in America. But they will hand out another prestigious trophy in two weeks, and the winner of the PGA won't be any less revered than Henrik Stenson was yesterday.
07.18.2016 | Unregistered CommenterReal Talker
@NC Phyllis...I would imagine it is cost driven in many ways as it is my understanding that the ProTracer camera has to be mounted and not the hand held shoulder camera that is usually used for the rear fairway shot we all see. At Oakmont a few times we caught a glimpse of the tech guys manuveuring the ProTracer camera into place including on Johnson's approach to 18 which was interrupted by a strange beep that I still wonder if it was the camera. So all of this plus I suppose the technology itself is more expensive would add to the cost of producing the tournament.
07.18.2016 | Unregistered CommenterGriffin
The idea of Scottrade sponsoring Protracer comes very close to ruining the graphic for me. Very similar to Peter kostis choking out "the Konica Minolta swing vision camera" every time he wants to view a slo-mo of a swing. Dan Hicks having to announce "sponsored Scottrade" is awkward and cumbersome. What's more, it likely prevents it from being used on every hole, which is how it should be. Let me say this: Fox got it right with showing the player AND Protracer but also using the graphic on a diagram of the hole to actually show where the shot wound up.

Like others, I certainly did hear that the British Open is no longer called the "Open Championship" but just "The Open" - - an awkward and ham-fisted attempt to create even more of a lofty image and upper crust exclusivity. Sad.

The "U.S. Masters?" Give me a freaking break!
07.18.2016 | Unregistered CommenterBenseattle
You have low standards if you think this was a good broadcast. It was dreadful on all counts. Too many commercials too much talk, not enough graphics showing shots course etc. Miller was barely there. Tirico should stay home with jimmy Roberts. Broadcast sucked a lot of juice of a historic final round.
07.18.2016 | Unregistered Commenterv60
I thought the broadcast was good based on what they had to work with on Sunday. Two great golfers battling it out. They was nothing else to show. I guess it would have been better if Tiger was out there shooting an 88 but we weren't blessed with that.
07.18.2016 | Unregistered CommenterJupiter
I was much in the camp of saying how poor NBC was in the early rounds (particularly Thursday). Outside of the pro-tracer gripes we all have, there's not much to criticize about Sunday.

Miller got clowned by Faldo in early round coverage, but he seemed to be "just ok" over the weekend.

Just one last thing going back to pro tracer: The par 3, 17th hole. Seriously, no pro tracer there NBC? And the on course reporters were too afraid to tell us if it was going at the hole or not. I just don't see how this is possible when we know Fox would've had pro-tracer following that final group.
07.18.2016 | Unregistered CommenterChicago John
The event was comprehensively covered by Sky Sports in the UK. Surely NBC and the GC are just showing the feeds provided by Sky and have no control of where the pro-tracer was used?
07.18.2016 | Unregistered CommenterPeter Norrie
Watched this on closed caption yesterday. There should be a drinking game whenever Miller answers a question with yeah or yep.
07.18.2016 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Ball Jr.
I don't care how they try to rebrand it...I will never call it anything but The British Open. And that tournament at Sawgrass? Yeah, it's still the TPC to me.
07.18.2016 | Unregistered CommenterRM
On the Open issue and what to call it, may I ask our American friends what you call your national championship ? Do you refer to it as the "US Open " ? I think most of you do, please correct me if I'm wrong. Here, just about everyone I've ever golfed with call the four majors the Masters, US Open, Open and the PGA, simple as that. Like it or not, the Open was the first and the biggest major to win for all but perhaps Americans. I don't know what it bothers some of you, after all, you do have 3 of the 4 majors on home turf. You should be happy with that rather than try to run down what most think worldwide the best tournament to win. We love the Masters over here, it's a course we would all love to play, love the history, Bobby Jones ect and it's American and that's great. Here, it's simply known as the Masters.
But we are proud to have our Open too. I know when I've played Open courses with visiting Americans they felt like I did, lucky to have played them. Great company too, I might add.
07.18.2016 | Unregistered CommenterEasingwold
@ BenSeattle Thanks for pointing out Tirico's post event interview with Stenson. It was the only low point of the Sunday round and broadcast for me. All I could think was how dumb a question can he ask? Followed by yet another dumb question. Twice. It is inexplicable to me how a seasoned reporter like Tirico could carry out so stupid an interchange.
@Easingworld...Pretty much agree with every thing you said but there have been people on here in the past that have complained about people referring to it as the British Open which is what it was called here anyway for years until it seems the last 10-20 years or so. As for the other majors right now on the European Tour website schedule it refers to next weeks tournament as the US PGA Championship and the Golf Channel European Tour broadcasters also often call it that as well. As you said about The Open the PGA Championship came first before the British PGA (which they ironically don't even call it anymore) so to be consistent they should refer to it as the PGA Championship. Not really some huge deal to me but it always strikes me as odd that it only goes one way with some.

As for the US Open I think most people here call it just that though some do call it 'the Open' as in the 'the Open was at Oakmont this year'.
07.18.2016 | Unregistered CommenterGriffin
Believe it or not, Chuck, it was THREE times. I counted. Both Steve Sands and Todd Lewis are infinitely better than the job Tirico did. And unlike others, I don't hate the guy.... I just don't like "questions" that fail to elicit real information. As a former broadcaster, I can tell you that the real job of an interviewer is to simply Get The Subject To Talk but "how does it feel" is such a cliche it's laughable.

One final note about "The Open." Back when I was a kid, newspapers took it upon themselves to OMIT the name or a tournament that was sponsored by a corporation. Events used to be named after their location: Dallas Open, Philadelphia Classic, San Diego Open, Westchester Classic, etc. However, once corporate America entered the picture, wire services wouldn't print the "Monsanto Open" or the "Carling World Open." Instead you would read: "Dave Hill shot a final-round 67 on Sunday to win a $50,000 PGA tournament in Miami, Florida." Problem is, it wasn't long before EVERY tournament had a corporate sponsor so eventually you saw Hertz, Sherson-Lehman, Cialis, etc. in every newspaper you could find. After all, it was the NAME OF THE TOURNAMENT... they had to use it.

Still, I'm probably not the only one chuckling at Johnny Miller practically biting his tongue to quickly correct himself when "British Open" slipped out. From NBC on high: "the contract says we call it The Open, Johnny...... NOT "The British Open!"
07.18.2016 | Unregistered CommenterBenseattle
It's the British Open over here. Period. No matter the lame attempt at re-branding. That doesn't mean it's any less respected or revered by Americans. I do enjoy the absent yelling of spectators after tee shots- they know the game and respect it. However, it is a bit of a novelty - oneoff. The best of the best play in the States which deligitimises the links style of play. Sorry.
50 hours of coverage and 25 were commercials. I know it's all about the money but how about commercial free for the last hour or so? These days you have to DVR the proceedings. Just tortuous.
07.18.2016 | Unregistered CommenterTwo black labs
Griffin, I think most of us agree either side of the pond. Agree about the PGA too. Only the majors have the names that really count, not TPC and certainly not the British PGA. I hope they never put a sponsors name before any major, ever.
07.18.2016 | Unregistered CommenterEasingwold
Fair enough Melvin, each to their own
07.18.2016 | Unregistered CommenterEasingwold
Please shut up when the player and caddies are taking. Please, please, please. Is it that hard?
07.18.2016 | Unregistered CommenterThe Big K
For the record call it what you want, call the tournament in Augusta the US Masters if you like, doesn't bother me.

The BBC called it the British Open in 1973. Check the footage of the '73 tournament at Troon, posted here by Geoff early last week, the BBC had graphics in multiple places calling it the British Open.
07.18.2016 | Unregistered CommenterConvert
@ Chico - personally I have grown up here in USA calling them the US Open, and the British Open. Sometimes it would even be referred to as "the British". I never thought that adding British in any way diminished the stature of the event I our eyes at least. certainly no offense or harm was intended, and it seemed to me that both were essentially being treated equally. But in recent years the deliberated branding of first "The Open Chamionship" , and now "The Open" comes across as a tad forced.

But I think most try to get it right. Given that even many newspapers over here can't properly use England\Britain\United Kingdom when called for, it is no wonder.

One other thing I noticed over the past few years - please confirm - I would have sworn that 10 years ago, they would identify the Country as "Great Britain" when saying - here we are in Troon, ... For example. But now, it is exclusively - Scotland. Maybe this is a result from the Indy movement in general and is being directed by the local Gov't ? Maybe I'm wrong, but it seems that way on this end.
07.18.2016 | Unregistered CommenterBrianS
There are people in the U.S. of a certain age who refer to the U.S. Open as the "National Open" for what it's worth.
07.18.2016 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Ball Jr.
The England/Britain/Scotland/United Kingdom thing does seem to be a baffler to American media sometimes. But I can almost understand the struggle sometimes as last week I was checking the weather forecast for Troon at weatherdotcom and found out if you search for Troon, Scotland you get nothing as it's listed as Troon, Ayrshire, United Kingdom. I'm pretty informed about this stuff and I have a hard time figuring out when and why sometimes Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland compete separately from England and sometimes they don't.

So the whole British Open/Open Championship/The Open thing seems to fit right in.
07.18.2016 | Unregistered CommenterGriffin
I think the broadcasts and golf digest magazine called it the British Open 30 years ago when I took up the game. I still call it that in my mind. The Open Championship sounds just fine to me on the broadcast but they haven't changed my mind. And it's the US Open for the USGA tournament.
07.18.2016 | Unregistered CommenterMatt H.
If Scotland leaves the UK will that have an impact on the term used to describe this championship? I am curious what regular golfgers think o this. Are not most of the rota courses in Scotland?
07.18.2016 | Unregistered Commentermunihack
ProTracer is all right but no need to use it all the time. The tee-shot receive camera should be able to follow the ball. If not, find better camera operators. Fox isn't that good at following the ball so uses it more, and can't sync the ProTracer camera precisely with the rest of the cameras because of the processing needed, so stays with it until the ball is almost on the ground. Fox telecasts seem more video-gamey to me, and I prefer real life.

NBC and Sky shared many cameras and each had many of its own. There was an R&A-hired host broadcaster production that Sky may have had some control of.

Commercials: The first day, Golf Channel was on for 13 hours 49 minutes (1:30 a.m.-3:19 p.m.) and had 11:25 of program and 2:24 of commercials. That's 82.7 percent program, a bit off from the aforementioned 50/50 ratio.

Tirico was fine except for his questions. At least they were shorter than Sands'.

Otherwise, most exciting British / The Open since Watson nearly beat Cink, and certainly the best-executed by the leaders since 1977, if not more so. Compelling TV.
07.18.2016 | Unregistered CommenterGolden Bell

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