It is a shame that this year’s dramatic British Open couldn’t have finished on a Sunday when everyone was home to watch the telecast. However, judging by the numbers, it appears plenty of viewers were watching the final round on their digital platforms at work and elsewhere. Speaks to the power of how people consume their sports these days.
The Open on ESPN digital platforms reached record-breaking viewership this year as live coverage of Monday’s final round finished as the top golf event and one of the top 10 events all-time in minutes viewed for WatchESPN behind the 2014 FIFA World Cup and 2015 College Football Playoff National Championship game. Monday’s coverage alone – including the early morning session, Spanish language feed and international view – generated over 1.1 million unique viewers, more than 94 million total minutes viewed and an average minute audience of 222,000.
Meanwhile on the TV side, Jordan Spieth’s Grand Slam bid and Zach Johnson’s putter still delivered strong numbers.
ESPN’s live coverage of The Open – the third major of the golf season from the famous Old Course at St Andrews, Scotland – delivered strong ratings and viewership throughout the weekend, posting double-digit increases from 2014.
Overall, The Open delivered a 1.4 US household rating, up 27 percent from 2014 (1.1), and 1,940,000 viewers, up 29 percent from 2014 (1,500,000), according to Nielsen. Monday’s final round coverage peaked from 1:30-1:45 p.m. ET with a 3.7 household rating and 5,294,000 viewers as American Zach Johnson captured his second career major, defeating Louis Oosthuizen and Marc Leishman in the first playoff at The Open since 2009.
All in all, golf is on a great run in the majors despite the absence of Tiger Woods. The last five majors have featured Rory McIlroy’s back-to-back wins in the British Open and PGA Championship in 2014; Spieth’s victories in the Masters and U.S. Open; and Monday’s playoff in the British.
Can’t wait for the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits.
If Fox showed how difficult it is to cover golf at the U.S. Open, ESPN showed how great it can be if done well.
The veteran ESPN crew knows how to cover this tournament. Mike Tirico and Scott Van Pelt always seem to hit the right notes. I was at a golf outing Tuesday and several people said they wished Van Pelt did more golf.
Paul Azinger delivers passion mixed with candor and it is great to see Judy Rankin walking the fairways at age 70.
ESPN has one last shot at the 2016 British Open before the new NBC deal starts in 2017. You can be sure ESPN will pull out all the stops at Royal Troon.