But The Demos Are Strong!

Jon Show and John Ourand pen a Sports Business Journal story on the Golf Channel's ratings for season one of 15.
Though numerous sources acknowledge that the network did not meet its ratings guarantees to advertisers this season, Golf Channel executives said a majority of its current advertisers already have renewed for next year, with several cutting multiyear deals. In the first of a 15-year deal with the PGA Tour, Golf Channel has aired full coverage of 13 official money events, and early-round coverage of 30 official money events.

“We will deliver on all, or the majority, of our deals by the end of this year,” said Tom Knapp, Golf Channel’s vice president of strategic partnerships. “The PGA Tour and the Golf Channel is no different than any program on CBS, on NBC; it’s a wide array of deals on different demographics and different terms and conditions.”

For the most part, ad buyers contacted by SportsBusiness Journal said they are not concerned about the network’s ratings shortfall, calling it a common situation among networks, and said they are happy with Golf Channel’s upscale demographics.

But Larry Novenstern, executive vice president for media buying agency Optimedia, cautioned that the ratings shortfall could hurt Golf Channel more than it would bigger, over-the-air broadcasters.

“When you get a contract as big as the PGA [Tour], you have to be careful what you wish for,” he said. “When you’re dealing with [ratings of 0.3 and 0.4], it’s different.”

Though they would not get into specifics, network executives said advertisers are renewing at a brisk pace and paying more than they paid last year.

“Last year (buyers) speculated what they would get,” Knapp said. “This year they know what they’re going to get.” Knapp added that some companies that took a wait-and-see approach this year are signing on for 2008, and the network has had “a lot of success” among nonendemic categories such as financial services, luxury cars, pharmaceuticals, technology and consulting.
And they're happy in Ponte Vedra. For the most part.
“We have some ideas on how the Golf Channel and the networks can probably explain (the FedEx Cup) better next year,” he said. “A little more emphasis on our players and profiling them, I think, is the only thing we would look for them to do in addition next year.”
Data provided by Golf Channel shows coverage of events from the season-opener in early January through the Tour Championship in mid-September, which signaled the end of the inaugural FedEx Cup season, delivered 29 percent more 25- to 54-year-old male viewers with income of more than $75,000 than the comparable coverage on USA and ESPN last year, and 21 percent more adult 25-54 viewers in the same income bracket. Comparisons are made on an event-to-event basis.

In each demo, half of the viewers watched the live coverage and half watched the prime-time re-air.
The PGA Tour coverage helped increase year-to-date total viewership on the network by 49 percent over 2006. That includes increases of 44 percent and 42 percent in males 25-54 and adults 25-54, respectively.