Golf’s U.S. Open created plenty of drama and controversy this year, from explicit audio to full audio loss Friday to Phil Mickelson creating the takes heard round the world when he hit a moving ball Sunday and was handed a two-stroke penalty. However, it didn’t really do well for Fox in the ratings, perhaps especially when it came to Sunday’s final round. As Paulsen writes at Sports Media Watch, there was a slight year-to-year uptick in the overnights for the final round, but it was still one of the least-watched final rounds on record:
Sunday’s final round of the U.S. Open earned a 3.6 overnight rating on FOX, up a tick from last year (3.5) but down 5% from 2016 (3.8).
Brooks Koepka‘s second-straight win, which peaked at a 6.1 from 6-6:30 PM ET, tops only last year and 2014 (3.3, NBC) as the lowest rated final round of the tournament on record.
This year was the fourth of the past five in which final round coverage had less than a 4.0 overnight. From 1989-2013, the final round had at least a 5.0 each year. That 25-year run included a 6.1 five years ago and an 8.5 ten years ago (when Tiger Woods won in a playoff).
Of course, there was some significant competition this year in the form of the World Cup, and Sunday’s Mexico-Germany match (which went head-to-head against the U.S. Open) wound up being the highest-drawing event of the weekend with a 4.3 for Spanish-language coverage on Telemundo and a 3.2 for English-language coverage on FS1. So an improvement, even slight, isn’t bad news, especially as 2017 didn’t have a major soccer tournament as competition.
And all four rounds of the tournament were up somewhat year over year. However, they were still bad in historical context; third-round coverage Saturday posted a 2.8, an eight percent year-over-year rise and the best number since 2015, but the fourth-lowest number of all time. So, the bright side for Fox is that there’s a slight trend up here, even with significant other sporting competition. However, these numbers also suggest that the U.S. Open is nowhere near what it’s drawn for much of its history, and that the 12-year deal for the rights Fox struck in 2013 (with broadcasts beginning in 2015) may not wind up looking as good for the network as it did back then.