TV ratings up for first month of golf, thanks in part to chilly winter weather

jhonattan vegas
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Jhonattan Vegas' surprise victory at the Bob Hope Classic drew a huge larger audience than the same event did in 2010.
Doug Ferguson
Associated Press


Published: Tuesday, February 01, 2011 | 7:42 p.m.

PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said golf doesn’t depend solely on TV ratings, although good news never hurts.

Golf has shown some promise the first month of the year, with significant increases in viewers on The Golf Channel, which broadcast the opening three events and the first two rounds of Torrey Pines; and CBS Sports, which had the weekend at Torrey.

Even without Tiger Woods around -- he tied for 44th in the Farmers Insurance Open and was on the air for about 30 minutes Sunday -- CBS said its national rating for the final round was 3.5 with a 7 share, which was up 59 percent from a year ago.

The Golf Channel, meanwhile, said it got a 1.0 with 997,000 viewers for the first round of Torrey Pines, which was up 89 percent from last year. It said the season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions was up 38 percent, and the Bob Hope Classic was up 60 percent, despite the final round going up against the NFC and AFC Championship games.

Finchem described ratings as a “unique animal,” and said golf depends on them less than other television programs. The tour over the last few years has touted “cumulative audience” because it is on TV for some six hours on the weekend.

He also mentioned that golf ratings were hurt last year by a successful Winter Olympics, Woods being out of action for the first three months of the season and having his worst year, and by the NFL having one of its best years.

“We’ll see how we perform this year,” he said last week. “We’re up a little bit early in the year, but it’s way early.”

It might have helped golf its first network coverage came on a weekend when the East Coast was buried under snow.