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The Tiger Factor redux: Masters TV ratings plunge without Woods

ESPN takes a huge hit in ratings for the 2nd round at Augusta compared with last year when Tiger Woods seemed on his way to his 15th major championship.

Mike Ehrmann

The absence of Tiger Woods at this year’s Masters continues to have a negative impact on TV ratings, with ESPN reporting that viewership for Friday's second round was down significantly from that of last year when Woods was in the hunt for his 15th major.

Getting past Tiger

In 2013, even before the full impact of Woods’ disastrous fracas with the flagstick on the 15th hole had come to light, the worldwide leader enjoyed its highest-rated (3.0) and most-viewed (4.2 million watchers) Friday telecast since it began broadcasting the Masters in 2008.

This year, though Friday’s ratings were improved from Thursday’s, with Woods sidelined for the men’s first major of the season, pundits fully expected that the year-to-year ratings would dip substantially.

Friday’s telecast earned a 1.8 U.S. household rating, averaging 2.5 million viewers, according to fast national data from Nielsen Media. Those numbers were favorable compared with Thursday’s 1.5 rating and average 2 million viewers.

For the two days of ESPN’s Masters telecasts, the sports network averaged a 1.6 U.S. household rating and 2.2 million viewers -- both numbers off from last year’s averages of 2.5 rating and 3.5 million viewers.

CBS, which airs the weekend rounds, must be shuddering about the ratings awaiting that network, what with both Tiger and Phil Mickelson -- who missed the cut for the first time since 1997 -- now out of the contest.

ESPN was not the only entity suffering Woods withdrawal. The void left by Tiger’s no-show had an early impact on ticket prices and that trend appears to be continuing as well, according to Rick Reilly.