news 1 week ago

'Are you serious?' Tiger Woods draws biggest (non-major) PGA TV ratings in five years

Sporting News — (Michael McCarthy)

If you watched sports TV Monday morning, everybody from Jay Harris of ESPN to Colin Cowherd of Fox Sports was talking about one athlete: Tiger Woods.

Even the most jaded sports TV commentators admitted to retreating to their living room and wildly cheering as a resurgent Woods contended to the 72nd hole of the Valspar Championship, which Paul Casey eventually won.

MORE: Four reasons Tiger Woods can win the Masters

The ESPN and Fox talkers weren't the only ones avidly watching Woods' exciting second-place finish Sunday afternoon. NBC Sports drew a 5.1 overnight TV rating, according to Nielsen, an astonishing 190% increase from the comparable final round last year. Excepting the four major tournaments, it was the highest rated PGA Tour broadcast in nearly five years, trailing only the 5.7 overnight for Woods' 2013 win at the Players Championship.

The TV highlight of the tournament? Watching  Woods drain a 44-foot birdie putt on No. 17 that seemed to take forever to reach the hole. 

"Are you serious? Are you serious?" yelled NBC's David Feherty as the putt finally dropped into the cup.

"There is a little of that old time Tiger Magic," exulted Gary Koch of the Golf Channel.

Around Woods, the spectators went nuts. At that moment, you could hear fans telling themselves: Tiger is back.

“This crowd has been like a volcano waiting to erupt," noted Dan Hicks of NBC. (The PGA's tweet of that insane Woods putt has already drawn 1.84 million views and counting.)

Even after nearly 10 years in the wilderness, the 42-year old Woods draws eyeballs like no other athlete. Consider: 

-- NBC's ratings peaked at a 6.62 from 5:30 to 6 p.m. on NBC as Woods made his charge. TBS actually got lucky that Woods' final birdie attempt on No. 18 came up short right before it went on the air with its NCAA March Madness Selection Show.                                                                                    

-- NBC's Valspar coverage was up 28% from the 2015 Wyndham Championship, the last time Woods contended on a Sunday.  In the event's home market of Tampa, the final round drew a 10.98 overnight rating.

-- The Valspar was the most-streamed PGA Tour event ever for NBC, with 27.2 million minutes streamed across NBC and Golf Channel digital platforms. There were 15.4 million minutes streamed on Sunday's coverage alone.

We're at a time in sports TV when ratings for most events are down. But Woods proved once again he doesn't move the golf TV needle, he is the needle.

With the Masters only weeks away, CBS Sports is salivating over what kind of numbers the "Tiger Effect" will generate from Augusta National.

Jack Nicklaus spoke for a lot of fans when he tweeted Sunday: "Well done @TigerWoods! You're getting there my friend. Sure it won't be long!