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All Eyes on Augusta

Opening Rounds Create 7% Masters Viewership Spike

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Social Media
April 27, 2022
June 21, 2022
 min read

Each stop on the PGA TOUR has a unique charm that appeals to golf fans across the country. Some tournaments are played at courses with breathtaking views, others have historic relevance, and still more combine fan experiences that can entice even a casual fan. But one event each year exponentiates all of these characteristics. Golfers and fans alike always circle early April on their calendars and fix their attention on The Masters in Augusta, Georgia. The exclusive club known for its lush greens, beautiful azaleas, and Magnolia Lane is home to the most coveted prize in all of golf – the green jacket awarded to each year’s tournament winner. And the allure of such a magnificent setting is enough to turn almost any sports enthusiast into a passionate golf fanatic for four days. We used MVP’s broadcast and social platforms to contextualize The Masters’ reach by highlighting viewership figures on CBS for the four-day tournament as well as key storylines that emerged on social media. Among the most striking takeaways was the significant boost in early-round television viewers as the championship commenced with a familiar face returning for the first time since 2020.

Broadcast Ratings Surge Before Moving Day

While The Masters has long been golf’s most esteemed event, a young phenom helped it attract a new generation of fans a quarter-century ago. Tiger Woods’s momentous victory at the 1997 tournament catapulted him into golf stardom, and he has had a tremendous impact on broadcast ratings, sponsorships, and overall PGA TOUR relevance ever since. So, it was little surprise when his entry into this year’s tournament – fewer than 14 months after a serious car accident – heightened fan interest. Opening round viewership on CBS jumped to 5.7 million, a 20.5% year-over-year increase from last year’s Masters, in which Woods was unable to compete. Thursday figures were also 24.6% higher than the audience that tuned in to watch the first round in 2020, when the event was held in November due to COVID-19. The difference was even greater for Friday’s broadcast after Woods finished his first round 1-under-par. The 6.7 million viewers who watched the second round represented a 23% year-over-year spike. But Saturday’s moving day, with Woods falling out of contention, drew only a 5% increase, totaling 13.42 million viewers. And the weekend closed with a relative whimper, as 16.62 million viewers tuned in to watch World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler win his first major by three strokes over Rory McIlroy. By contrast, 16.8 million witnessed Hideki Matsuyama edge Will Zalatoris by one stroke on Masters Sunday last year. Broadcast figures over the course of the tournament netted an overall audience of 42.4 million — amounting to a 7% year-over-year increase in viewership.

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Walking the Course in Comfort

A topic that permeated social media beginning with the Masters practice rounds leading up to the event was Woods’s choice of footwear. For more than two decades, Woods has been among the most recognizable Nike athletes throughout the sporting world, but he arrived in Augusta wearing FootJoy cleats. While Woods chose not to make a spectacle of the switch and avoided prolonged statements on the matter – beyond explaining FootJoy’s shoes provided much-needed stability following leg injuries sustained in his February 2021 car accident – fans and onlookers drove the story on social media, creating value for both brands. And although Nike did not receive the exposure it typically enjoys when Woods wears the company’s shoes, it still benefited from branding on his apparel and equipment. As a result, Nike received $159K worth of brand value and roughly 1.32 million engagements on 199 posts featuring Woods throughout the week, with content from entities including the PGA TOUR accounting for significant portions of the total. FootJoy often had to share its brand value with Nike in posts mentioning both companies, and it finished the week with only $6K in social brand value.

The Rub of the Green

Walking to the 18th green with the gallery applauding in unison and subsequently donning the green jacket in Butler Cabin are career milestones reserved for only those who can best a field of the world’s greatest over four days in an Augusta April. The newest member of the Masters champion club is Scottie Scheffler, who surged to a five-stroke lead after 36 holes and maintained his spot atop the leaderboard through 72. Despite entering the week as the world’s top-ranked golfer, Scheffler did not arrive with the same level of fanfare as Woods or other past champions. A relative lack of enthusiasm about Scheffler was confirmed by MVP’s examination of image, text, and video content on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube throughout the week. Posts from PGA TOUR entities during Thursday’s first round numbered only 123, accounting for $48,486 worth of post value thanks to 44,579 engagements. But the total post count rose to 1,652 by the weekend’s end, with 968 coming on Sunday. Social posts featuring Scheffler during the final round generated $647,136 in post value and earned 1.96 million engagements, bringing his tournament totals to $1.05M and 2.56 million, respectively. Additionally, content posted on Scheffler’s owned channels had a notably broader reach than posts from before the Masters began. Scheffler generated 65% higher post values and 3.46x more engagements during the tournament than in the month prior, while also growing his overall social following by 2.1x.

Sights Set on Southern Hills

While the PGA TOUR continues with events in Mexico, Maryland, and Texas in the coming weeks, the world’s greatest golfers are already setting their sights on Southern Hills Country Club and the PGA Championship next month. Everyone in the tournament’s field will be vying for what Scheffler already has – a major victory in 2022. As evidenced by Scheffler’s social surge on Masters Sunday, performing well on the grandest stages can boost one’s value. And as shown by Woods’s attention throughout Masters week, that value has the potential to last for decades. Stay connected with MVP for further insights into the PGA TOUR’s biggest events as the season continues.

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