2017 Masters Ratings Wrap: Final Round Down 11%, ESPN Streaming Way Up

As with ESPN's ratings drop, I suspect some context is needed to fully understand the drop in CBS ratings thar surprises a bit given the quality of the leaderboard. However, with the exceptional coverage online that can stream in places never before imagined, it would seem inevitable that ratings should decline.

On the other hand, perhaps this is an opening for a serious dialogue about how golf is presented on television.

Either way, let's start with Austin Karp's Tweets for SBJ:


ESPN's ratings were down but they did reveal streaming numbers that would suggest audience went to other means of watching. For immediate release:

Masters Tournament Coverage Earns ESPN’s Highest Streaming Numbers Ever

ESPN wrapped up its live coverage of the first and second rounds of the Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on Friday, April 7, with its highest streaming numbers ever for the two days.

Golf fans streamed a record 25.8 million total minutes, a five percent increase from 2016, and the two-day average minute audience of 46,812 was up three percent from the 2016 record of 45,313. Friday’s second round stream from 3-7:30 p.m. ET earned a record average minute audience of 49,038 viewers.

The success story for the Masters on ESPN digital platforms also included a record two-day average of 961,000 unique visitors to golf content on the ESPN App, an increase of 34 percent over 2016. Also, a two-day average of 1.3 million daily unique visitors went to golf content on ESPN.com. Across all ESPN digital platforms, the two-day average minute audience of 23,000 people on golf content was a 14 percent increase from 2016.

ESPN’s live telecast of the second round of the Masters on Friday earned a 1.8 rating, averaging 2.603 million viewers. The telecast peaked at a 2.0 rating between 6-6:30 p.m. Last year’s telecast of the second round earned a 2.2 rating and an average viewership of 3.060 million viewers. 

Orlando, Fla., was the nation’s highest-rated metered market with a 4.0 rating for Friday’s telecast, followed by Greenville, S.C., at 3.9; San Diego at 3.2; and Greensboro, N.C., and Norfolk, Va., tied at 3.0.s

Completing the top 10 metered markets were Louisville, Ky., at 2.9; Cleveland and Memphis, tied at 2.8; and Tampa-St. Petersburg and Oklahoma City, tied at 2.7.

The Friday telecast completed ESPN’s two days of live Masters coverage, but SportsCenter and ESPN.comwill continue to report from the event throughout the weekend.

 Golf Channel's debut of Jack following Live From The Masters went well:

Last night’s 1st episode of Jack (.24 overnight rating) matched 2 of 3 episodes of Arnie, which premiered following the 2014 Masters. This makes Jack the highest-rated Golf Films project in three years, exceeding 4 other projects in that span (Payne, Arnie & Me, Crenshaw: A Walk Through Augusta, ‘86). Live+3 final data will be available later this week. Episode 2 of Jack premieres tonight at 9 p.m. ET.