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).
**Martin Kaufmann praises NBC for tossing the playbook out and going all in on the final twosome.
According to Classic TV Sports which did the always fine work of documenting the shots shown, NBC had a dismal number compared to the other majors. But again, no one minds given the two-horse race situation.
NBC televised only 224 shots during this period which worked out to 0.83 strokes per minute. This was a sizable decrease from the ESPN shot rate of 1.23 that I measured from the 2015 Open Championship and the lowest rate for any major that I have tracked. The lack of competition from the rest of the field clearly contributed to the low rate. NBC chose to aggressively spotlight the drama and excellence of the lead group (and take numerous commercial breaks) rather than fill time with relatively meaningless golf action from the rest of the pack.
John Strege in Golf World would like to have seen more Protracer but praises the broadcast for most elements, including NBC/Golf Channel showing, at some point, 155 of 155 players in the field.
Ken Fang offers his Pros and Cons of the NBC/Golf Channel coverage, with a great screen grab of the LinksTrax feature which went largely unseen due to the soft conditions.
Golf Channel’s Friday produced some nice numbers for very long broadcast windows. Phil's 63 and the likes of Spieth, Fowler and McIlroy in the window didn't hurt.
NBC's ratings release, which only lacks a thank you to Phil Mickelson for bringing star power and Henrik Stenson for bring the drama:
NBC SPORTS POSTS BEST FINAL ROUND OVERNIGHT IN 9 YEARS AT THE OPEN
THE OPEN POSTS 2ND BEST OVERNIGHT FOR A FINAL ROUND AT A MAJOR THIS YEAR
TROON, Scotland (July 18, 2016) – NBC Sports’ coverage of The Open’s Final Round was the second-highest for a major championship final round in 2016 behind the Masters after posting a 3.94 overnight rating. Additionally, NBC’s overnight peaked at a 5.47 with a 14 share as Henrik Stenson outlasted Phil Mickelson to capture the Claret Jug from 1-1:30 p.m. ET, according to data released by The Nielsen Company.
NBC’s coverage was the highest final round overnight for The Open in nine years (2008-2016), slightly ahead of ABC’s final year of broadcast coverage in 2009, which featured the playoff between Stewart Cink and Tom Watson at Turnberry (3.93).
Additionally, this overnight rating was +50% vs. 2015 Sunday at St. Andrews (2.62, Rd. 3 coverage, ESPN); and +50% vs. 2014 Final Round at Royal Liverpool (2.62, ESPN).
Coverage from Royal Troon Golf Club in Scotland ran from 9:15 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. ET on NBC, with Henrik Stenson, who is now the Champion Golfer of the Year, and Phil Mickelson teeing off at 9:35 a.m. ET.