Cratering. Devastation. Decimation. Those are a few of the kinder terms to characterize the decline in the PGA Tour’s most conspicuous indicators since Tiger Woods underwent season-ending knee surgery just a few days after his epic U.S. Open win in June. In the immediate wake of The Tiger Show at Torrey Pines, the Tour was riding a crest: Its prime-time rating and audience share for NBC’s final-round telecast that Sunday (10.0/20) had been even higher than the figures for the competing NBA Finals Game 5 on ABC (9.0/16).
Since then, however, golf’s TV ratings have fallen into the abyss. Despite Padraig Harrington’s thrilling victory on Sunday at Oakland Hills, the overnight rating for the PGA Championship was 3.0, down 55% from last year’s final round at Southern Hills — an event won by (surely you recall) Woods.
Such a figure bodes poorly for NBC’s return to the Tour over Labor Day weekend for the second FedEx Cup playoff event, the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston in Norton, Mass. (CBS will telecast the first FedEx event, the Barclays Championship, which Woods did not play in last year.) The Deutsche Bank — which last year featured Woods’s gripping Labor Day duel with eventual winner, Phil Mickelson — will be hard-pressed to approach ‘07′s superb 3.4 final-round rating. Nor can NBC be optimistic about the other two FedEx events it carries, the BMW and the Tour Championship. With the possible exception of the Sept. 19-21 Ryder Cup (also on NBC), the Nielsens almost certainly will stay in the doldrums until Tiger’s expected return in 2009.
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Never mind how he voted.
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