PGA Overnight: 6.1, Up 56% And Peaks At 8.3! PGA Second Highest Rated Major Of 2018

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Tiger Woods should have another gift basket waiting on his doorstep today, this time from Sean McManus to go with the ones from Mark Lazarus, Mike McCarley and Fred Ridley. Okay, maybe The Masters doesn't do gift baskets. 

Anyway, Tiger helped deliver a 6.1 overnight final round rating for the 2018 PGA Championship. The audience peaked at 8.3 late in the round. 

From Paulsen at Sports Media Watch, who has several other anecdotes about the ratings this year:

Sunday’s final round of the PGA Championship earned a 6.1 overnight rating on CBS, up 69% from last year (3.6), up 56% from 2016 (3.9) and the highest since 2009 (7.5). The previous mark was a 6.0 for the 2014 final round.

The 6.1 is tied as the highest golf overnight outside of the Masters since the final round of the 2012 U.S. Open (6.6).

Some might point out that the 6.1 much better than 2014's 6.0 at Valhalla featuring the unforgettable Rory-Rickie-Phil finish.  However, sports ratings have been on a decline and sizable numbers have moved to streaming, making the rating that much more impressive for CBS.

Also worth noting: the strong final round means the U.S. Open was the lowest rated final round of the four majors this year. The overnights for 2018:

Masters: 7.9
U.S. Open: 3.6
The Open: 5.0
PGA: 6.1

PGA Championship Television Woes, TNT And UK Streaming Edition

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2018 brings with it the same PGA Championship broadcast window woes of the past. 

While CBS has upped their technology game this year, the ironclad PGA contract with CBS and TNT has not been touched since 2009. Today's low early scoring and even a brief 59 watch only adds to the equation.

As John Strege wrote yesterday for GolfDigest.com when none of Rickie Fowler's opening 65 could be seen, TNT was airing episodes of Charmed and Supernatural. And there was this:

In the nearly 30 years that Turner Sports has been telecasting the first two rounds of the PGA Championship, it has always employed the same six-hour window. (Incidentally, its current broadcast rights contract with the PGA of America, negotiated in 2009, runs through 2019.)

One more year and then the PGA of America can give us something else almost assuredly better for the opening rounds and lead-in coverage. 

But if American fans think they have it bad, check out James Gray's Express story on the inauspicious start for the IMG-negotiated, streaming-only PGA broadcast in the UK by the upstart Eleven Sports.

However, the broadcaster announced its more ambitious intentions for 2018 when it secured deals to show La Liga, Serie A, the Eredivise and the Chinese Super League in the UK - as well as the PGA Championship.

Coverage of golf’s fourth major came in for criticism last year after BBC picked up where Sky Sports had dropped it, only to produce a half-hearted effort at producing a replacement.

2018 Women's British Open Ratings: Peaks At 1.18 Million Viewers

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Great to see so many people enjoying the final 2018 links season tournament despite no Americans in contention and two little-known leaders in Georgia Hall and Pornanong Phatlum.

For Immediate Release:

NBC SPORTS’ WEEKEND COVERAGE OF THE RICOH WOMEN’S BRITISH OPEN
BECOME THE MOST-WATCHED WOMEN’S GOLF TELECASTS ON ANY NETWORK IN 2018

Sunday’s Final Round: Most-Watched Final Round Women’s Golf Telecast in ‘18; 2nd Most-Watched Ricoh Women’s British Open Final Round Since 2009

Saturday’s Third Round: Most-Watched Saturday Women’s Golf Telecast in ’18; 2nd Most-Watched Third Round at This Event in 10 Years 

2.2 Million Live Minutes Streamed; Most-Streamed Women’s Golf Event Ever Across NBC Sports

NBC Sports’ Combined Coverage of the Three R&A Events – The Open, Senior Open and Ricoh Women’s British Open – Most-Watched Since 2009 

ORLANDO, Fla., (Aug. 10, 2018) – Sunday’s final round of the Ricoh Women’s British Open on NBC delivered 964,000 average viewers (11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. ET; P2+), which saw Georgia Hall become the first Englishwoman since Karen Stupples in 2004 to win the Ricoh Women’s British Open with a two-shot victory over Thailand’s Pornanong Phatlum. This makes The 2018 Ricoh Women’s British Open final round the most-watched women’s golf telecast on any network in 2018 and most-watched final-round telecast since last year’s Ricoh Women’s British Open final round, also on NBC (1.1 million average viewers). Sunday’s final round also becomes the 2nd most-watched final round at this event since 2009 on ABC.

Saturday’s viewership on NBC also becomes the most-watched women’s golf Saturday telecast on any network in 2018 with 740,000 average viewers. Saturday’s coverage also becomes the 2nd most-watched third round at this event in 10 years, since 2008 on ABC.

NBC Sports’ combined weekend coverage (.63 U.S. Household Rating, 842,000 average viewers) becomes the 2nd most-watched weekend at this event in nine years, since 2009 on ABC and behind only last year’s coverage on NBC.

ADDITIONAL NBC SPORTS VIEWERSHIP AND DIGITAL HIGHLIGHTS:

  • NBC Sports’ final round linear coverage peaked at a .85 U.S. Household Rating, and 1.18 million average viewers (1:45-2 p.m. ET).

  • Digital: Across four days of coverage, 2.2 million total minutes were streamed (+10% vs. 2017); making 2018 the most-streamed women’s golf event ever across NBC Sports’ platforms.

Brandel On His Competitive Return At The Old Course

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Brandel Chamblee qualified for the Senior Open at Carnoustie after years on the sidelines and the Golf Channel analyst writes about the experience.

This was fun and my dictionary did get cracked to look up obdurate:

My ball striking started to improve, such that after a few sessions with Lucas, I could hit scores and scores of shots that, passing through the right window in the sky, wouldn’t move but the few feet I wanted them to fade. Confidence can leave one like a thunderbolt, but it comes back incrementally. So there I was, a humorous blend of contradictions when asked how I thought I would do – somewhere between 64 and 78, I’d think. The analyst in me said, no chance. The player in me had left a long time ago. The truth was, I didn’t know. 

Besides being asked how I felt I would do, the question I got more often was if I realized how much fuel my poor play might give those looking to criticize me. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t give it some thought, but the thought of competing again means one has to risk embarrassment with an obdurate mix of ignorance and certainty. 

CBS Adding Great Goodies For PGA Championship Broadcast: 4DReplay, Mic's In Cups, More Drone Flyovers

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With all due respect to the tech people who work behind the scenes on these innovations free of politics or business, but it's especially fun to see CBS adding some cutting edge enhancements to their PGA Championship. Not coincidentally the news arrives after a combination of factors, from some Fox and NBC/Golf Channel influence, to the best incentive of all: a 2019 expiring contract! (Note to golf organizations: shorter contracts incentivize innovation!). 

The full release is below, but the 4DReplay add, at least based on what we've seen of its use in other sports, could be as groundbreaking as tracer technology. (See sample embeds below).

And we always welcome more cup sound and drone flyovers!

For Immediate Release:

CBS SPORTS TECHNICAL ENHANCEMENTS AND INNOVATIONS EXPAND

FOR 2018 COVERAGE INCLUDING FIRST EVER 4D REPLAY ON U.S. GOLF

HAWK-EYE GREEN TECHNOLGY, ROVER CAM, TOPTRACER TECHNOLOGY AND MORE BRING VIEWERS INSIDE-THE-ROPES LIKE NEVER BEFORE

For the 28th consecutive year and 35th overall, CBS Sports will broadcast the PGA Championship contested at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis, MO with cutting-edge technical enhancements and innovations that bring viewers inside-the-ropes like never before.  CBS Sports will present the third and final rounds on Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 11-12 (2:00-7:00 PM, ET).   Coverage begins on CBS Sports Network with “PGA Championship on the Range” and “PGA Championship Clubhouse Report” Thursday, Aug. 9- Sunday, Aug. 12.

CBS Sports production will once again lead the way with cutting-edge technical enhancements and innovations, including being the first U.S. broadcaster to use 4D Replay on a golf broadcast.  CBS will use the ground-breaking 4D Replay showcasing the challenging 495-yard Par 4 15th hole through a camera covering 270 degrees of the tee box that allows for 3D manipulation of the video giving announcers and viewers an all-new look at a golfer’s swing.    

With 110 cameras and 175 microphones covering 41 miles of multi-strand fiber, equaling 492 miles of actual fiber connectivity, viewers will not miss any action on the grounds at Bellerive.  

In addition, for the first time at a PGA, CBS will utilize Hawk-Eye Green Technology, giving viewers a unique perspective on the putting line as well as the undulations of the green, as well as Rover Cam for a ride across Bellerive.  Along with the enhancement of Toptracer, Toptracer RF and ARL, Virtual Eye, 4K HDR, Smartcart, SwingVision, Aerial Drone Coverage, Cup Mics and all new on-air Graphics look celebrating the 100thPGA Championship, CBS will showcase this unrivaled technology to complement the broadcast as another chapter in PGA history unfolds.    

Production and Technology elements in detail:  

·       4D Replay – CBS Sports will be the first U.S. broadcaster to use 4D Replay on golf at the PGA Championship.  A camera array covering 270 degrees of the 15th tee box will allow for 3D manipulation of the video.  The video not only can pan anywhere within the 270 degrees of coverage, but can also be zoomed in and slowed down in playback to get a unique look at the tee shots from the best players in the world attacking the challenging Par 4 .

·       Toptracer – CBS will use Toptracer broadcast technology on all 18 holes, using 3D radar tracking to provide the viewer with a true sense of distance, height, curvature and more. Tracing live tee shots on various holes showing the apex, ball speed, distance and curve will once again be staples of this technology.   Toptracer will also showcase new Range Technology during coverage of “PGA Championship On the Range,” both Thursday and Friday on CBS Sports Network.

o   ARL Virtual Eye - Virtual Eye technology returns this year with increased coverage of more holes. Virtual Eye uses Toptracer ball tracing capabilities on tee shots within a 3D Hole model while simultaneously showing the golfer hit shots from the tee.  And, for the first time at the PGA Championship, it also will be used from the fairway on the 17th hole. Virtual flyover animations also return, giving a second shot perspective once the ball comes to rest including GolfTrax information providing key statistical information for both individual players and holes.  Virtual Eye will be used both live and in playback.

o   Toptracer RF - Toptracer will outfit two RF mini cameras in order to provide ball tracking graphics and statistics on a player’s second shot from the fairway anywhere on the course at Bellerive Country Club. 

·       Hawk-Eye Green Technology    

o   Putt Predictor - The Putt Predictor demonstrates the extreme differences in the line that a putt can travel and still go in based on weight of the ball strike.  It provides a shaded area between the line of a hard putt to the back of the hole and a soft putt line that has the most movement.  If a putt leaves the shaded area between the two lines the viewer knows that it will not drop.  

o   Undulation Grid - A graphical grid overlaid on a green along with moving arrows to highlight the undulations of a green.

·       Rover Cam -  For the first time, CBS Sports will use a remote controlled rover with an RF camera affixed to it to provide a unique perspective to the coverage travelling across the grounds at Bellerive Country Club.

·       4K HDR –  Bellerive Country Club’s closing holes 16, 17, and 18 will be captured in 4K beginning Thursday and concluding with the final round.  For the fourth time in 2018, CBS will produce live 4K golf coverage, which includes using 15 4K HDR cameras at the PGA Championship to air on DIRECTV. New to the Championship this year is the addition of HDR to the home viewers of the 4K show. HDR, with a wider color gamut, provides richer and more vibrant colors along with deeper contrast between light and dark for a more realistic image.

·       Smartcart – Introduced two years ago for the first time at a PGA Championship, Smartcart returns.  The 72-inch mobile screen, attached to a custom-fitted golf cart for broadcast applications, will be used to analyze and telestrate a myriad of data including golf swings and shots, difficulty of holes, and scorecards bringing a new dimension to golf coverage with compelling content from action on the course.  CBS Sports Network also will use Smartcart for Thursday and Friday’s “PGA Championship On the Range.” 

·       SwingVision – CBS returns its Emmy Award-winning technical innovation, SwingVision, featuring super-slow action to break down players’ swings and demonstrate shots from various parts of the course.

·       Aerial Drone Coverage –  CBS Sports’ aerial drone coverage captured all the elevations, undulations and hazards of Bellerive Country Club.  Drones allow for a much more dynamic look at each hole for the viewers from the “player’s perspective.” 

·       Cup Mics -  Microphones will be placed in specified cups to capture audio from balls going into the hole as well as hitting the pin or even landing on the green near the cup.  

·       New Graphics -  Celebrating the 100th PGA Championship, the graphics package embraces the spirit of the PGA using the navy and gold color scheme of the PGA of America. The amination package evokes the essence of this tournament through graceful movement and high-end 3D design.  

This, in golf could be so powerful, from capturing a golf swing to an incredible moment. It would particularly fun on a drivable par-4 tee and some day, an 18th green complex.

And a how-we-do-it piece:

PGA Tour Live Moving To NBC Sports Gold In 2019

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After testing out PGA Tour Live with ESPN's new streaming service, the pre-Golf Channel telecasts will move to NBC Sports Gold in 2019 and feature more viewer-friendly synergy between Golf Channel and PGA Tour Live telecasts.  Obviously, as a Golf Channel contributor, I'm thrilled to see the move as it strengthens the Tour-GC relationship, but as a fan, the sense of a competitive vibe where the PGA Tour was not in lockstep with its cable partner did little to serve fans. 

Of course, I say all of this as a cable TV lover who will not cut the cord anytime soon, so I'm not the demo sought after here.

Judging by the "passes" offered at NBC Sports Gold, expect a golf pass that becomes a future option for cord cutters. 

In the meantime, For Immediate Release...

PGA TOUR & NBC SPORTS GROUP ANNOUNCE STRATEGIC OTT PARTNERSHIP

PGA TOUR LIVE’s Thursday & Friday Morning Coverage to be Distributed as Standalone Subscription Offering within NBC Sports Gold in 2019

PGA TOUR LIVE Joins Premier League, Tour de France, Rugby World Cup & Boston Marathon within NBC Sports Gold Offerings

Available on Desktop, Android and iOS Devices, Apple TV; and New for PGA TOUR LIVE via Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast, and Roku

ORLANDO & PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – (July 31, 2018) – Today the PGA TOUR and NBC Sports Group announced a new, innovative, multi-year digital partnership. Starting in 2019, NBC Sports Gold, NBC Sports Digital’s direct-to-consumer live streaming product, will be the United States’ home of PGA TOUR LIVE, the PGA TOUR’s over-the-top subscription video service. The partnership includes rights to all of PGA TOUR LIVE’s Thursday and Friday morning coverage from 28 events, starting with the CareerBuilder Challenge in January, featuring THE PLAYERS in March, and running through the FedExCup Playoffs in August.

Since launching in 2015, PGA TOUR LIVE has brought fans exclusive coverage of the best players in the world on Thursday and Friday mornings – the first time that complete, live coverage of morning marquee groups was offered. The platform also features real-time video highlights, complete round replays and tournament recap programming.

NBC Sports Gold is an industry leader in direct-to-consumer live streaming with a robust portfolio of properties. Launched in 2016, NBC Sports Gold’s offerings complement NBC Sports’ broadcast and cable distribution. In addition to PGA TOUR LIVE, NBC Sports Gold includes packages for fans of the Tour de France, Premier League, Rugby World Cup, Boston Marathon, Pro Motocross and also coming in 2019, IndyCar, among others. As part of NBC Sports Gold, PGA TOUR LIVE will be available on desktop, Android and iOS Devices, Apple TV; and will expand to Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast, and Roku next year. NBC Sports Gold is powered by Playmaker Media, NBC Sports Digital’s best-in-class live streaming and VOD solution, which in 2018 delivered 4.37 billion live streaming minutes for the three biggest digital events: Super Bowl LII, Winter Olympics, and FIFA World Cup.

“Since we launched PGA TOUR LIVE in late 2015, the fan feedback has been tremendous,” said Rick Anderson, Chief Media Officer of the PGA TOUR. “In 2018, virtually every key metric is up triple digits versus last year and the coverage gets better and better every week. Moving PGA TOUR LIVE over to NBC Sports Gold represents the next evolution of our product. Not only will Golf Channel and NBC Sports be promoting PGA TOUR LIVE to its massive audience of millions of television and digital viewers, but also, PGA TOUR LIVE will now be available on several new connected TV devices due to NBC Sports’ expanded platform distribution. In 2019, our live coverage will be significantly better, and more accessible, for subscribers of PGA TOUR LIVE.”

“We’ve worked together with the PGA TOUR on many projects across many platforms and we’re looking forward to taking the next step with PGA TOUR LIVE on NBC Sports Gold,” said Mike McCarley, President, Golf, NBC Sports. “Building upon years of partnership, NBC Sports Group and the PGA TOUR are raising the profile of PGA TOUR LIVE as a complement to the hundreds of live hours of PGA TOUR tournament coverage across Golf Channel and NBC Sports. As we help build PGA TOUR LIVE, we’re fortunate to be able to apply lessons learned from years of digital innovation in covering some of the biggest events in sports via NBC Sports’ best-in-class streaming capabilities.”

In 2019, PGA TOUR LIVE plans to stream more than 360 hours of exclusive subscription coverage, as well as hundreds of hours of free Featured Holes coverage, complementing televised coverage from 28 PGA TOUR events next year. PGA TOUR Entertainment will continue to produce the live coverage. Highlights of the PGA TOUR LIVE subscription package launching on NBC Sports Gold include:

  • Pre-game Show: a 30-minute preview program that leads into the morning’s live competition coverage.

  • Featured Groups: early round coverage on Thursday and Friday prior to Golf Channel’s afternoon television window. Featured Groups coverage follows two concurrent, high-profile groups throughout their 18-hole rounds. To-date in 2018, PGA TOUR LIVE has featured entire rounds (outside traditional televised windows) of Tiger Woods, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler, and dozens more.

  • Featured Holes: live coverage of some of the PGA TOUR’s most iconic holes, concurrent with Golf Channel’s television window (traditionally from 3-6 p.m. ET).

  • Integrated Statistical Feeds: Users never have to leave the action with integrated live leaderboards and player scorecards.

  • Comprehensive Viewership Experience: Streamlines the PGA TOUR viewership experience by providing golf fans a continuous platform for streaming via NBC Sports Gold for PGA TOUR LIVE’s, Golf Channel’s and NBC Sports’ coverage windows.

  • Featured Player Recaps: Users can get caught up on the day’s action with new condensed rounds from each player in the Featured Group coverage.

  • Event Recaps: Watch an event recap in an hour-long cut down show that highlights the best of that weeks’ tournament.

Pricing options for PGA TOUR LIVE in 2019 will be announced in January. Users who sign up via www.pgatourlive.com will be kept aware of the latest news and announcements related to its 2019 launch on NBC Sports Gold. For golf fans outside of the United States, the same comprehensive PGA TOUR LIVE coverage will be available. More information will be announced by the PGA TOUR at a later date.

Rick Anderson of the PGA Tour discussed the move on Morning Drive:

AdAge On What The Open's 18-year Ratings-High Means

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Anthony Crupi of AdAge takes an in-depth look at the Tiger Woods effect on Open Championship ratings and overall in 2018.  The Open final round out-rated the U.S. Open for the first time

Of note is the impact on other tournament numbers enjoying a small bump even when he isn't in the field, suggesting (possibly) that he has had an overall impact on interest in golf. 

Also of note is the boost in ad spending and ad approach in this little renaissance. 

Crupi notes:

Among the markers who spent the most in order to bask in Tiger's reflected glory were Mercedes-Benz, Geico, Rolex, Pacific Life, Travelers, U.S. Bank, Farmers Insurance, Toyota and Volkswagen. According to iSpot.tv estimates, Mercedes racked up some 60.6 million impressions during Sunday's round, which works out to a very reasonable CPM of $25.60.

Callaway also got a fair amount of milage from the Open, as the golf gear brand throughout the four-day tourney was featured several times in NBC's "Playing Through" ad format. Designed to keep viewers plugged into the action on the links while giving the sponsor a chance to shill its wares to a highly-targeted audience of golf enthusiasts, the split-screen execution offered a window on the goings-on in Carnoustie on the left side, while Callaway spokesman Phil Mickelson warned viewers that one of his Chrome Soft balls was about to pass through their living rooms.

Given the amount of complaints I saw on social media, hopefully Playing Through used this way will get more advertisers to endorse the concept for more consistent usage in golf and other sports where there are no natural breaks. 

"Bevacqua’s exit leaves questions for PGA"

Alex Miceli offers up several thoughts on where Pete Bevacqua's departure leaves the PGA of America as it considers a headquarter move and a new television contract. 

On the Frisco move:

One will be the reported move of PGA headquarters from Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., to Frisco, Texas, near Dallas. The next CEO surely would want a say in the decision. Considering that it took more than five months for Bevacqua to be named CEO, the move to Frisco might be on life support while waiting for the PGA’s new boss. It still could be an issue for the new CEO, if a move is determined to be necessary.

The news did bring PGA of America President Paul Levy out of hiding following his June DUI arrest. Levy faces an August 2nd court date. His letter to members:

I’m writing today with news that Pete Bevacqua has resigned as our CEO to become president of the NBC Sports Group.  His resignation is effective Monday, August 13, upon conclusion of the 2018 PGA Championship. 

We are grateful to Pete for his many contributions in nearly six years as our CEO.

Under Pete’s leadership, we advanced our mission to grow the game and serve our members in many ways:  We developed and implemented a long-term strategic growth plan; made major enhancements in the career consulting and professional development of PGA Members, including establishing life-long learning in three career tracks and creating the Chief Membership Officer position; took the bold step of moving the PGA Championship to May; reached a record-setting Ryder Cup agreement with NBC; alongside the LPGA, led the creation of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship as the cornerstone of our diversity and inclusion efforts; and set in motion the exciting path to a new headquarters development for our Association. 

In addition, we took ownership of PGA Jr. League and created an effective way to introduce boys and girls to the game in a fun, team format.  Our charitable foundation, PGA REACH, is impacting more lives through golf than ever before by enabling access to PGA Professionals and this great game. 

These are exciting times for the PGA of America, but the best is yet to come.  We are committed to building upon the momentum of recent years while also embracing new ways to grow the game and serve our members. 

The Board of Directors has approved a leadership transition plan with Chief Membership Officer John Easterbrook, PGA, acting as interim CEO. During this time, we will look internally and externally to find a long-term CEO. 

With the PGA of America well-positioned for continued success, Pete departs with our gratitude and best wishes to him and his family. 

Sincerely, 
 

Paul K. Levy
President, PGA of America

Pete Bevacqua Leaves PGA Of America For NBC Sports

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The PGA of America loses a CEO and NBC Sports Group gains a new president, with Pete Bevacqua taking a newly-created position starting in September under Mark Lazarus overseeing many elements, including all golf properties. 

In the meantime, a new CEO search will commence for the PGA of America with an upcoming television contract negotiation and possible move to Frisco, Texas looming. 

For Immediate Release:

PETE BEVACQUA NAMED PRESIDENT OF NBC SPORTS GROUP

New Role Will Oversee Programming, Marketing, Digital, NBC Sports Regional Networks, and all Golf Businesses

STAMFORD, CONN. -- July 24, 2018 -- NBC Sports Group today named Pete Bevacqua to the newly created position of President, NBC Sports Group. In this role, Bevacqua will oversee several key areas, including programming, marketing, digital, the NBC Sports Regional Networks, and all Golf businesses under the NBC Sports umbrella. He’ll report to Mark Lazarus, Chairman of NBC Broadcasting and Sports, and will begin his new role in September.

“With the expansion of NBC Sports Group over the last seven years, and our continuing investments in new and existing businesses, adding Pete to our already strong management team will help us organize for future growth,” said Lazarus. “We are thrilled to have someone with his experience and reputation join our organization.”

Bevacqua joins NBC Sports Group from the PGA of America where he has served as CEO since 2012. The PGA of America oversees the PGA Championship and Ryder Cup, among many other events, and serves more than 29,000 members. Most recently, he led the move of the PGA Championship from August to May beginning in 2019, giving the golf major a stronger place on the golf calendar. Among his other accomplishments at the PGA of America, he created the first-ever Chief Membership Officer; added and renewed several key partnerships and sponsorships; and the PGA designed and implemented a strategic plan focused on the PGA’s mission to serve its members and to grow the game. Prior to the PGA of America, Bevacqua served as the Global Head of Golf at Creative Artists Agency (CAA Sports), and other key industry positions.

“The opportunity to join NBC Sports Group, and the larger Company of Comcast NBCUniversal, which holds media rights to the world’s biggest events and an incredible assortment of assets, was too good to be true,” said Bevacqua. “I am also deeply grateful to the membership, leadership and staff at the PGA of America. Professionally and personally, for me and my family, these have been the best six years of my life. Leading the PGA of America and the 29,000 PGA Golf Professionals will always mean a great deal to me.” 

2018 Open Championship Ratings: Round 1 Up 27%, Round 2 Up 4%

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Tiger played Thursday afternoon and Friday morning, likely explaining round one's big increase on Golf Channel.

For Immediate Release:

MOST-WATCHED ROUND 1 OF THE OPEN ON GOLF CHANNEL EVER:

Golf Channel’s Round 1 coverage of The Open posted a Total Audience Delivery (TAD: Live Linear + Streaming) of 1.024 average viewers, up 27% vs. 2017 and the most-watched Round 1 at The Open in its three years on Golf Channel (8:01 a.m. – 4 p.m. ET).

It also became Golf Channel’s most-watched Thursday ever, and the fifth-best Total Day on record (2006-2018). Golf Channel was the No. 1 cable sports network for Total Day by 9%. And from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET, Golf Channel was No. 1 cable sports network by 314%, and third for all 114 Nielsen measured cable networks.

And Friday:

MOST-WATCHED EARLY ROUND TELECAST OF THE OPEN EVER ON GOLF CHANNEL:

Golf Channel’s Round 2 coverage of The Open (8 a.m. – 3:58 p.m. ET) posted a Total Audience Delivery (TAD: Live Linear + Streaming) of 1.141 million average viewers, up 4% vs. 2017 and the most-watched Early Round telecast at The Open in its three years on Golf Channel. Friday’s Round 2 TAD was up 11% vs. Thursday’s Round 1 (1.024 million average viewers) and became Golf Channel’s most-watched weekday telecast since the 2016 Ryder Cup Friday coverage (1.3 million).

Tiger Effect: Quicken Loans Ratings Up Big, All But One PGA Tour Event He's Played Showing Big Gains

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Paulsen at Sports Media Watch has a nice breakdown and chart following a strong 2.3 final round rating for the Quicken Loans National. That's up 92% over last year and 28% from 2016. The third round was up 143% and lead-in coverage on Golf Channel was up 147% Sunday, 129% Saturday. 

“The Tiger Effect” has consistently boosted PGA Tour ratings all season. Woods has played 20 rounds on broadcast television this season and all-but-one has posted an increase in ratings and viewership. The lone exception was the final round of the Memorial, which aired mostly on tape-delay.

 

Whoa: David Feherty Profiled By John Feinstein

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This is the first story of any depth profiling Golf Channel's David Feherty since the death of his son, Shey

John Feinstein writing for Golf World:

On July 4, Anita had gotten a text from Shey saying he needed to go back to rehab. He had never gotten there.

For a year, Feherty had been told by professionals that he needed to stay away from Shey, that he was enabling his drug habit by giving him money. He and Anita had agreed the night before that they would call him the next day—Saturday—to wish him a happy birthday.

"The truth is, I'd broken down on several occasions and given him money again," Feherty says. "He was so sweet, and I couldn't say no to him. Plus, like all of us addicts, he was a very good liar. He convinced me the money wasn't for drugs. I'm sure I knew deep down he was lying, but I wanted to believe he was really on the way to coming out on the other side.

"Not talking to him regularly, not seeing him, was painful. But this ..."

He stops, unable to go on.

"For the season, the U.S. Open...ranks behind the final rounds at Tampa Bay and the Players"

Paulsen follows up with a few more numbers putting the U.S. Open's ratings decline into perspective. From Sports Media Watch:

The past five years have produced the five lowest final round ratings on record. Until 2014, the record-low was a 4.5 rating. Since, ratings have not exceeded a 4.2.

The reasons for that will range from declining ratings in all sports, to additional telecast time to a general reduced interest in the U.S. Open. (The championship's sellout streak is also over despite a limit of 30,000 tickets a day.) 

Then there is this:

For the season, the U.S. Open not only trails the third and final rounds of the Masters, but also ranks behind the final rounds at Tampa Bay (4.4, 6.9M) and the Players Championship (3.6, 5.8M).

Finishing behind Tampa Bay, even with Tiger, is astounding especially given the packed leaderboard heading into Sunday. 

Paulsen also reports an additional 36,000 viewers streamed the final round on Fox Sports GO.

Yep, streaming has arrived!

When Is More Sound Too Much Sound On A Golf Telecast?

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Fox didn't have the best of technical days during round two of the 2018 U.S. Open, with about 7-8 minutes of no audio that fell while key players were on the course. If the Golf Gods were decent, the technical issues would have landed during a painful Fox synergy play featuring a Bill Hemmer interview. Perhaps if you're a regular viewer it was exciting to learn how life in the Hamptons works for the Fox News anchor, but for most it was an agonizing way to transition between announce teams while plugging a network show.

For every fan annoyed by the sound of balls hitting the bottom of the cup, the telecast featured several reminders of how much on-green dialogue we get to hear thanks to Fox's aggressive placement of microphones and other efforts to push the technology envelope.

But as the Sporting News' Michael McCarthy writes, Shinnecock is proving to be a tough place for Fox's 200-plus microphones given the, uh, style of New York fan energy projected toward players.

On Thursday, viewers didn't get many revealing nuggets between opposing players or between players and their caddies. Instead, they heard a lot from a loud and proud New York crowd. It was like listening to the soused, rowdy crew at the notorious 16th hole of the Phoenix Open. Technology giveth, and it taketh away.

 

On Friday, it got worse. As Timothy Burke of Deadspin noted, the increased audio led to a particularly raunchy fan conversation being picked up as Patrick Reed was playing a shot.

I'm all for Fox pushing the boundaries and trying to pick up the sound, even if the collateral damage is a bit rough at times.

Reminder: Fox And Rolex Bringing "Uninterrupted" U.S. Women's Open Coverage Starting Today

This is going to test the bladders of announcers and certainly will put the focus on sponsor Rolex, to the point we may grow tired of their ads. But from a viewing standpoint the new commercial-free approach begins with Thursday's U.S. Women's Open. 

From the press release when announced:

Beginning in 2018, Rolex will be the exclusive presenting partner of coverage for eight USGA championships on FOX Sports and FS1, including the U.S. Women’s Open, the U.S. Senior Open and the U.S. Amateur. Rolex’s commitment will ensure an uninterrupted broadcast of these events, providing golf fans hours of continuous live golf action as history unfolds.

“We are excited to further FOX Sports’ commitment to innovative and immersive viewing experiences for our audiences, as well as targeted messaging for our partners,” said Bruce Lefkowitz, executive VP of ad sales at Fox Networks Group. “These uninterrupted broadcasts give us the opportunity to innovate and differentiate our telecast, while capitalizing on the unique nature of the USGA championships to provide viewers with more live action and new perspectives on the golfers and championships.”

The innovative format will allow FOX Sports and the USGA to deliver more golf content to fans around the world, while providing Rolex the opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to the amateur and professional game. Features and video vignettes highlighting signature moments, legendary champions, and the iconic venues that make up these championships will be seamlessly integrated to further entertain, engage and educate the audience. 

Coverage times: 3:00 – 8:00 PM FS1/FSGO.

Weekend Ratings: Golf Goes Head-To-Head With Golf, No One Wins

Yes, we're a sport that plays in the daytime, limiting options. Golf also faces travel and weather issues and has to consider timing for the next tournament. Still...

Memorial Day posed it's share of issues, but looking at the down Colonial number (1.45), the essentially flat Senior PGA rating (0.5) and LPGA's .17 as noted in SBJ's weekend ratings wrap-up, golf battled itself and lost.

As the Forecaddie notes, this doesn't seem like the best use of the big partnerships between three of golf's various families. 

Quail Hollow Draws Best Rating Since '15, Second Best Sports Event Sunday

Another positive ratings story for the PGA Tour, as CBS's final round broadcast of the Wells Fargo Championship drew a 2.2 overnight rating for Jason Day's win over Aaron Wise, reports SBD's Austin Karp. That's up from a 1.6 last year when Brian Harman outlasted Dustin Johnson and Roberto Castro.

The rating put PGA Tour golf behind only the NBA Western Conference Semifinals game four between the Warriors and Pelicans (4.1).

Saturday's Kentucky Derby on NBC won the weekend with a 9.1 overnight rating.

Intriguing Tussling: Sky Sports And The Masters

The Guardian's Ewan Murray says all is not rosy between The Masters and Sky Sports--exemplified in part by this year's late renewal of the 2017 edition. 

While this tussling is of seemingly no interest to American audiences, the move to a Sky/BBC split was part of a series of efforts by major championships and the people who own their rights to align with Sky and Fox for broadcasts. Both paid handsomely to strengthen their offerings, but have suffered financial losses and criticism for not reaching enough eyeballs. The Masters currently is seen live on Sky and on BBC for recap shows.

This all gains more intrigue when Fox and Comcast (Murdoch and Roberts) are attempting to purchase Sky, with Fox already owning a big stake and Comcast making what amounts to a hostile bid. 

Murray writes:

 

The standoff for the 2018 Masters meant it took Sky until January to confirm it had secured rights. They were, however, only for a single year. When the Masters took place, Sky’s top brass – as was customary before – chose not to attend. If matters are to be patched up once more, it appears likely this will again be a late call.

(Booth) Bifurcation At The U.S. Open!

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The Forecaddie says Fox is taking a different approach to the U.S. Open this year at Shinnecock Hills, with two lead teams(ish) featuring Joe Buck and Paul Azinger, along with another team of Shane Bacon and Brad Faxon.

Loomis explained what viewers can expect to see at Shinnecock Hills in June: “On Thursday and Friday at the U.S. Open there will be hours when it’s just Shane and Brad, and hours where it’s just Joe and Paul. On the weekend, there will be times where Joe and Paul will get two holes, Nos. 1 and 2, and Brad and Shane will get two holes, Nos. 3 and 4. It adds up to 10 holes for Joe and Paul, eight for Brad and Shane. Because people don’t see us all year, it allowed us to be a little simpler in figuring out who’s talking for the viewer.”

Congrats to Shane on the big vote of confidence! It must be the Shotmakers bounce!

Valero Texas Open Lands Best Rating Since 2014

Ok so a 1.7 for the 2018 Valero Texas Open final round isn't going to be cited as a sign of post-Tiger hope or even the inevitable and obvious audience growth impact of #LiveUnderPar, but given a very strong weekend for NBA playoff action on TNT and no major stars in the Valero field, CBS must be pleased to have the Andrew Landry win show an increase.

Austin Karp with the weekend roundup for SBD.