Fox Sports has reason to be happy about its 1st round ratings at the U.S. Open. In its first year as the home of USGA tournaments, Fox saw an average of two million viewers on both Fox Sports 1 and the Fox Television Network between 12 p.m. and 11:09 p.m. ET for Thursday’s coverage of the U.S. Open. Despite glitches and some bumps in the road for Fox’s first major golf tournament, viewers watched and gave the tournament its highest viewership in 12 years (2002 on ESPN/NBC at Bethpage Black in New York).

Let’s look at Fox’s ratings and viewership for Thursday.

  • Fox Sports 1/Fox’s viewership for the first round is up from last year’s 1.3 million on ESPN and NBC by 54%.
  • Primetime coverage on Fox (8 p.m. – 11:09 p.m. ET) averaged a viewership of 3 million with a 1.9 rating and 4 share, up from NBC’s afternoon window last year (3 p.m. – 5 p.m.) of 1.5 million and 1.4/4.
  • Viewership for Fox peaked at 3.5 million between 10-10:30 p.m. ET.
  • Fox Sports 1 averaged 1.5 million viewers for its eight hours of coverage which Fox says is up 25% from ESPN’s first round coverage last year.

Now let’s fact check the numbers.

This year’s U.S. Open being played at Chambers Bay Golf Course in University Place, Washington is the first West Coast open since 2012 when the tournament was played the Olympic Club in San Francisco. Last year’s tournament was held at Pinehurst No. 2 in North Carolina and coverage ended on ESPN at 7 p.m. ET.

Due to the U.S. Open being held in the Eastern time zone last year, there was no primetime coverage so the numbers were lower in 2014. In addition, when Fox compares its numbers to NBC last year, it’s apples and oranges as this year’s broadcast window was in primetime as opposed to NBC’s early round window which was traditionally aired from 3-5 p.m. ET.

When we compare the ratings and viewership to 2012, combined viewership on Fox Sports 1/Fox is up slightly from ESPN/NBC, 2 million to 1.9 million. Fox’s 1.9 rating and 3.0 million for its primetime window is up almost 50% and 76% from ESPN’s 1.3 rating and 1.7 million respectively.

And ESPN’s 2012 1st round viewership of 1.7 million actually beat Fox Sports 1’s 1.5 million in 2015.

So as Fox looks forward to its weekend numbers, it will note that its ratings will be higher than NBC’s last year and while we’ll report them, we’ll also compare them to 2012 as well.

[Sports Media Watch]


About Ken Fang

Ken has been covering the sports media in earnest at his own site, Fang's Bites since May 2007 and at Awful Announcing since March 2013.

He provides a unique perspective having been an award-winning radio news reporter in Providence and having worked in local television.

Fang celebrates the four Boston Red Sox World Championships in the 21st Century, but continues to be a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan.