Sam Burns with the Walter Hagen Cup after the WGC Match Play. Mar 26, 2023; Austin, Texas, USA; Sam Burns holds the Walter Hagen Cup after beating Cameron Young in the championship match during the final day of the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play golf tournament. Mandatory Credit: Dustin Safranek-USA TODAY Sports

Much of the golf ratings discussion thus far in 2023 has been about LIV Golf and its deal with The CW. There, the average audiences haven’t been great, even if the series and the network are hyping up the total amount of people who have tuned in at some point. Meanwhile, the PGA Tour is seeing some year-over-year growth for weekend coverage of its events on broadcast TV in particular, with the latest there being the WGC Match Play this weekend.

As per Jon Lewis at Sports Media Watch, NBC’s Saturday and Sunday coverage of that event (won by Sam Burns, seen above with the trophy) pulled 1.3 ratings both days. That’s up 21 percent and three percent respectively year-over-year. That coverage also averaged 2.13 million viewers on Saturday and 2.03 million on Sunday. Those are respective year-over-year gains of 17 percent and three percent from last year’s numbers of 1.81 and 1.97 million viewers.

That follows a larger trend. As Lewis notes, viewership has been up year-over-year for 11 of the last 14 PGA Tour windows on broadcast TV. @GolfTVRatings on Twitter has some specific details on some of those past windows. Here’s what the previous two weeks, the Valspar Championship and The Players Championship, looked like:

The data there from the Valspar Championship on March 18-19 is particularly notable, as that went head-to-head with LIV Golf’s second event of the year. That event, from Tucson, Arizona, averaged 284,000 and 274,000 viewers respectively for Saturday and Sunday coverage on The CW.

Of course, those LIV Golf broadcasts are not universally carried (eight CBS-owned CW affiliates and some others do not carry them), so there are some access challenges there. But that follows a trend, with the series’ first event of the year (from Mayakoba, Mexico on Feb. 24-26) averaging 286,000 and 291,000 viewers for Saturday and Sunday coverage. It is notable that that event did go against two of the few recent PGA Tour weekend broadcast windows that didn’t see increases, though:

It’s still early in the season (and in the organization’s lifespan) for LIV Golf, and their goal isn’t necessarily to outdraw PGA Tour events immediately (which is good, as that seems unattainable at the moment). And their broadcast partners at The CW seem okay with how this is going so far, with Nexstar Media Group (parent of the network) CEO Perry Sook saying he was “very pleased” with the first weekend for its Saturday-to-Sunday growth and app viewership, and saying they were getting triple the ad revenue they would from other programming. We’ll see how that continues to play out over time.

But it’s notable how this has gone so far from a PGA Tour perspective. They have LIV Golf providing some broadcast TV competition this year, unlike last year’s YouTube-only broadcasts. And they have LIV Golf taking a lot of the headlines, and many of the ones for themselves have not been great. But their ratings seem to be hanging in there just fine.

[Sports Media Watch; photo from Dustin Safranek/USA Today Sports]


About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.