Tuesday, April 11, 2017

A tradition unlike any other...and many tuned out

The Masters is billed by CBS as "a tradition unlike any other." And, those of us who watched literally every hour of the NCAA Mens Basketball Tournament were constantly subjected to the languid piano music bed and beauty shots of Augusta National Golf Club as the network promoted the April 8-9 telecast.

This year the final day of the tournament had all of the makings for appointment viewing - many of the best golfers in the world were on the leaderboard, Jordan Spieth was trying to overcome his Sunday meltdown at last year's Masters, and the weather - and golf course scenery - was spectacular for the final day of action. Except...the television ratings declined dramatically.

The final round of The Masters drew a 7.6 overnight rating - a number that's 11% lower than last year and a 21% drop from 2015. It was the lowest television rating for the tournament's final day since 2004.

It also wasn't just a Sunday phenomenon - third round coverage was down 19% year over year and Friday's broadcast had an 18% drop.

So, why the paltry numbers?

- Even though the leaderboard was littered with big names, they were big names to those of us who are avid golfers and golf viewers. Casual fans did not tune in.

- And, casual fans who may have tuned in likely quickly tuned out once it became apparent that neither Jordan Spieth nor Rickie Fowler were going to make a charge on Sunday.

- No other American produced any drama on Sunday other than the hole-in-one on 16 from Matt Kuchar. (By the way, find the clip of Kuchar signing that golf ball and giving it to a young fan along the ropes on 16 green - it's classic, melt-your-heart stuff.)

- For all of the feel good drama about Sergio Garcia's first major victory, he's not the type of golfer who's going to attract huge viewership. Neither is Justin Rose. Dustin Johnson had to scratch and did not play; others like Phil Mickelson, Jason Day and the aforementioned Spieth and Fowler didn't factor into the final day drama.

The Masters also happens to fall on a weekend every spring that sometimes can have iffy weather and sometimes have spectacular weather. There was more of the latter around the U.S. this past weekend meaning that many were out tending their own shrubs and flowers in hopes of re-creating the horticultural magnificence of Augusta National.

CBS and the green coaters at Augusta National can take heart, however - this year's tournament ratings still outdrew the 3.4 rating of the U.S. Open last summer.

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