Fox’s 2016 U.S. Open golf coverage was generally better-received by critics than their inaugural foray last year (apart from their focus on Paulina Gretzky), but the overall ratings weren’t great. Their four-day viewership average of 2,341,000 was the lowest on record for the event (records in that category date back through 1995). Of course, some of that was because Fox provided so much coverage (a record 47.5 total hours; even 2008’s tournament that went to a Monday playoff only had 41.2 hours), so that’s going to drag the average down. Still, even the final round (5.4 million viewers) was a drop from last year’s 6.7 million who tuned in to see Jordan Speith win, although it was above the 4.6 million NBC recorded in 2014.
The breakdowns between rounds and the breakdowns between broadcast and cable networks are particularly interesting. Coverage of the first and second round, which aired on FS1 Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern, only drew 999,000 viewers. When the second round moved to Fox, though (5-9 p.m. Eastern Friday), it averaged 2,150,000. The third round did even better, pulling in 3,300,000 on Fox from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern, and when it moved to FS1 (8 p.m. to 9 p.m. Eastern), it averaged 1,711,000. The 5,400,000 on Fox for the final round (11 a.m. to 8:15 p.m. Eastern) is the most impressive part, as you’d expect, but it’s that daytime first/second round coverage on FS1 Friday that’s really dragging the average down. Fox probably could have bolstered the four day average further if they’d done less coverage, but it should be noted that 999,000 is well above what FS1 usually draws during the day, so providing that much coverage probably made overall business sense for them. Still, these numbers are likely less than they’re hoping for.