When Tiger Woods tees off later today at the Accenture Match Play Championship, he won't be the only one relieved by his return to the links. In fact, PGA Tour officials and TV executives might have more of a reason to celebrate than Tiger himself.
The Nielsen Company compared the network TV ratings for the 3rd and 4th rounds of golf tournaments played by Woods after the U.S. Open in 2007 with those same tournaments he missed in 2008 due to a season-ending knee injury. And the results are just what you might expect: Tiger's absence almost singlehandedly sliced tour ratings in half.
VIEWERSHIP OF PGA TOURNAMENTS MISSED BY TIGER WOODS DUE TO INJURY IN 2008-09
|TOURNAMENT||NETWORK||# OF VIEWERS P2+, 2007-08||# OF VIEWERS P2+, 2008-09||% CHANGE|
|NEC WORLD SERIES GOLF-SAT||CBS||3,250,000||1,793,000||-44.8%|
|NEC WORLD SERIES GOLF-SUN||CBS||**4,541,000||3,018,000||-33.5%|
|BUICK INV PGA GOLF-SAT||CBS||3,761,000||1,601,000||-57.4%|
|BUICK INV PGA GOLF-SUN||CBS||**6,193,000||2,868,000||-53.7%|
|DEUTSCHE GOLF CHAMP-SUN||NBC||3,658,000||1,960,000||-46.4%|
|DEUTSCHE GOLF CHAMP-MON||NBC||4,936,000||2,116,000||-57.1%|
|BMW GOLF CHAMPIONSHIP-SAT||NBC||3,113,000||1,091,000||-65.0%|
|BMW GOLF CHAMPIONSHIP-SUN||NBC||**4,358,000||1,678,000||-61.5%|
|source: The Nielsen Company 2009|
** - tournament won by Tiger Woods
^^ - play suspended by inclement weather
The average household rating/share for the 2007-08 tournaments played by Tiger was 3.3/8. The same tournaments played without the injured Tiger in 2008-09 averaged 1.7/4. An estimated average of 4.6 million viewers tuned in to those tournaments played by Tiger, compared to 2.4 million the following year, a drop of almost 47%.
For the record, Tiger won last year's Accenture Match Play Championship in front of an average 4.2 million TV viewers tuned to NBC.
The "Tiger Effect" extends beyond TV ratings; it has an impact on web traffic, as well. When Tiger amazed fans with his victory at the U.S. Open last June, it was also a victory for the PGA Tour’s Web site, which drew its highest audience of the year that month, with 1.6 million unique visitors. In fact, the average monthly PGA Tour Web traffic for April through June was 24 percent higher than in the following three months, after Tiger’s departure from the tour.