The ratings are in for Sunday’s PGA Championship on CBS, with 4.57 million viewers tuning in to see Brooks Koepka capture his fifth major title and first since 2019. According to Josh Carpenter of Sports Business Journal, that’s a 14-percent drop-off from last year’s final round.
PGA Championship: CBS draws 4.517M viewers Sunday for Brooks Koepka's win, the lowest since 2008 (4.020M) and down 14% from 5.273M for Justin Thomas last year.
Sunday viewership trend for the PGA:
2020: 5.153M (in August)
2019: 5.008M pic.twitter.com/ZLlK9UqhkK
— Josh Carpenter (@JoshACarpenter) May 23, 2023
There’s a myriad of reasons why that might be. Network television has been greatly affected by the cord-cutting phenomenon and increased competition from content-rich streamers like Netflix and Hulu, which could account for the PGA drawing its lowest ratings in 15 years. The PGA Championship also appears much earlier on the calendar than it used to, recently moving to May after years of being contested in August. What, if any impact that’s had on ratings remains a mystery.
Another factor to consider is the PGA’s ongoing feud with LIV, a frustrating dynamic that has alienated many of the sport’s longtime fans, most of whom would prefer to keep golf and politics separate. Seeing Koepka at the forefront, leading throughout the tournament with Sunday’s final outcome never in much doubt, couldn’t have helped in that regard.
Of course, these are all just theories, little more than educated guesses as to why the PGA Championship, traditionally one of golf’s biggest events (though admittedly the least consequential of the four majors), continues to decline in the ratings. Maybe it’s as simple as Tiger Woods—still far and away the tour’s biggest draw—not playing, still tending to his injured ankle after undergoing surgery last month. Barring a miraculous recovery, Woods will also be absent from next month’s U.S. Open field at Los Angeles Country Club, a tournament he last won in 2008.