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Four Rounds at The Country Club

U.S. Open Viewership Dips Slightly From 2021 Total to 35.55 Million

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Social Media
July 7, 2022
July 8, 2022
 min read

Every June, the best golfers in the world descend upon one course from a rotation of several that play host to the U.S. Open. The week is marked by breathtaking scenery, the height of pure golf skill, and nerve-wracking drives, approaches, and putts for 72 holes. Over the years, it has become an annual summertime – and Father’s Day – tradition. And for the 122nd edition of the U.S. Open, the United States Golf Association returned to one of its five charter clubs: The Country Club in Brookline, MA, which previously hosted the event in 1913, 1963, and 1988. The unforgiving par-70 course coupled with unseasonably cool and windy weather conditions proved challenging for the field, as only nine competitors finished the week under par. Ultimately, Matt Fitzpatrick claimed the Wanamaker Trophy after sinking a par putt on the final hole to maintain his one-stroke lead – which was the final margin of victory – over co-runners-up Will Zalatoris and Scottie Scheffler. We used MVP’s omnichannel platforms to assess interest in the national championship throughout the week, with a special emphasis on television viewers and social media activity surrounding the event. We discovered that while 35.55 million households tuned in across four days of coverage on USA Network and NBC, enthusiasm appeared to wane from the 2021 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines.

Brookline Broadcast Cards a Bogey

Ahead of the 2020 U.S. Open, NBC wrested broadcast rights from FOX in a deal with the USGA that promises the Peacock network will televise the major annually through 2026. In addition to streaming coverage, NBC airs the U.S. Open on USA Network and its flagship stations across the country, which show exclusive coverage of the final weekend pairings during rounds three and four. Using MVP’s broadcast platform, we explored year-over-year differences between the 2021 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines’ South Course in San Diego and this year’s championship at The Country Club outside of Boston. The 2022 event opened on June 16 with only 5.98 million television viewers – a 35.1% drop from last year’s first round, the largest year-over-year difference by round for the pair of tournaments. Round two was a similar story, with last year’s tournament boasting a 17.9% edge. The only round that attracted a larger audience this year compared to last year was the third round, which drew 10.54 million viewers to NBC’s networks on June 18. And while Sunday’s coverage elicited 16.8% more viewers than NBC received in the third round, it fell well short of 2021’s total. Last year’s final round was bolstered by a crowded leaderboard and a come-from-behind victory by Jon Rahm on the final two holes, earning NBC 15.2 million viewers compared to just 12.31 million for Fitzpatrick’s triumph in Brookline. Overall, viewership dipped by 12.2% from last year’s four-day total of 39.9 million.

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Relentless Pursuit of Brand Value

Although Matt Fitzpatrick was unable to move the broadcast needle as much as Jon Rahm and company did during the final round a year ago, his social activity was a big boon for the U.S. Open and its partners. Fitzpatrick’s Facebook and Twitter content accounted for six of the top seven posts in terms of post value for the weekend, led by a tweet that generated $111,534 in post value on its own. It also earned 120,542 engagements to finish second in our engagement rankings among golfers and golf entities for the week, trailing only the PGA TOUR’s Instagram post documenting Will Zalatoris’s near miss on the final hole that would have forced a playoff. In total, social content from the U.S. Open, PGA TOUR, USGA, and the event’s top five finishers earned 2.88 million engagements and $2.28M in total post value.

But post value only tells part of the story. Of the total, $648,146 – or 28.5% — was realized by corporate partners. The biggest beneficiary was Lexus, a tournament sponsor which was showcased prominently in social posts from U.S. Open accounts and those belonging to the PGA TOUR. Throughout the week, 252 posts featuring the luxury vehicle brand generated $148,288 in total brand value. Two other sponsors also eclipsed six figures’ worth of social brand value during the 2022 U.S. Open: Workday and Nike, which earned $113,476 and $112,307, respectively. With only 58 posts featuring Nike, the retailer enjoyed the highest average brand value at $1,936 per post. Titleist and Protiviti – one of Fitzpatrick’s sponsors – rounded out the top five, with each earning more than $35K in total social brand value.

Shifting Sights to St. Andrews

Next week, the golf world will shift its attention to St. Andrews, Scotland. Few venues across the sporting landscape – much less the golf landscape – can offer the history or command the reverence of the Old Course, which will host The Open Championship for the 30th time in its 150-year history. Familiar faces including Tiger Woods have plans to participate in the momentous event, and NBC hopes to capitalize on such star power as it televises the fourth and final golf major on the 2022 calendar. MVP will monitor The Open’s broadcast and social metrics for a report to follow in the weeks to come.

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