Behind the Broadcast: Golf ratings will surely take big hit

The ratings for last weekend’s U.S. Open golf championship were incredible, thanks to the incomp­ara

The ratings for last weekend’s U.S. Open golf championship were incredible, thanks to the incomp­arable Tiger Woods. And it may be over a year before we see those kind of numbers again.

Woods announced Wednesday that he has shut down his season to undergo reconstructive surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. He had arthroscopic surgery on the same knee right after the Masters. But watching him grimace on just about every tee shot during the U.S. Open, you knew the knee wasn’t right.

Woods calling it a year will bas­ically kill interest in men’s pro golf for the rest of the season. Who will get up in the morning next month to watch a Tiger-less British Open? Will the PGA Championship in

August be must-see TV? And will the Ryder Cup draw viewers without Tiger?

In my opinion, the answers are no one, no and no.

Those three events, as well as the rest of the PGA schedule, can only pray they can average even one- tenth of the ratings of what the U.S. Open received last weekend.

NBC earned a 5.3 rating and a 12 share for its third-round coverage (4-10 p.m.) last Saturday, including a 5.9/12 during prime time (8-10:30 p.m.). The 5.3/12 was a 15 percent increase over last year’s 4.6/12.

Sunday’s final-round coverage

(3-9 p.m.) produced an 8.5/21, a 21 percent increase over last year’s 7.0/17. The 7-9 p.m. prime-time coverage got an 11.4/17, and the

final half-hour (8:30-9 p.m.), when Woods birdied the final hole to tie Rocco Mediate for the lead and send the championship into an 18-hole playoff Monday, had a 13.5/24.

NBC’s coverage of the second half of the playoff (2-4:45 p.m.) got a 7.6/20, a 90 percent increase over the last Open playoff (2001, 4.0/12). ESPN, which televised the first half of the playoff (noon-2 p.m.), got a 4.2 rating. It was the most-viewed golf telecast in cable TV history, topping the 3.1 ESPN got for the Masters in April.

But the PGA can say goodbye to those kinds of numbers for a year. There isn’t a compelling reason to watch it the rest of the season, not with the sport’s best player on the sidelines.


The six-game NBA Finals were the highest-rated and most-watched programs so far in June, the first time that has happened in seven years.

Boston’s victory over the Los Angeles Lakers averaged a 9.3 rating for the series, up 50 percent over the 6.2 for San Antonio’s sweep of Cleveland last year. The Celtics’ Game 6 clincher on Tuesday earned a 10.7 rating on ABC, averaging 16.9 million viewers over the course of the game.

Game 5, two nights earlier, averaged 17.4 million viewers.

The last time the finals swept the top spots was in 2001, when the Lakers beat Philadelphia in five games.

The Belmont Stakes, with 13.1 million viewers, was the most-watched program in June besides the NBA Finals. ABC also televised the Belmont.


NBC and Notre Dame will continue their football relationship.

Both sides announced Thursday that they have agreed to a new five-year contract to televise the Fighting Irish’s home football games. The new deal begins in 2011. NBC has televised Notre Dame home football games since 1991.

“We are absolutely thrilled to be continuing our landmark agreement with Notre Dame, the most storied brand in college sports,” said Dick Ebersol, NBC Sports and Olympics chairman. “This new deal, which will bring us to 25 years as partners, is a great tribute to the wonderful relationship that [NBC Sports president] Ken Schanzer has built with the entire Notre Dame community.”

parting shots

Since WVCR-FM (88.3) is now broadcasting all of the Tri-City ValleyCats’ games, the Albany Conquest’s remaining games will be available on the Internet at af2tv. It can be accessed at www.- . . .

The Wimbledon tennis champ­ionships begin Monday at 7 a.m. on ESPN2. . . .

NBC Sports and the World Championship Sports Network have teamed up to form Universal Sports. The channel is available on the Time Warner Cable system at channel 1896. . . .

NBC will have U.S. Olympic

Trials coverage this weekend. The diving trials are on at 3:30 p.m.

today and 3 p.m. Sunday. The gymnastics trials are at 4:30 p.m. today and 7 p.m. Sunday. It will be carried by WNYT (Ch. 13) and WNYT HD. . . .

The St. Louis Cardinals and Boston Red Sox get the national treatment. Fox Sports (WXXA Ch. 23 and WXXA HD) has their game today at 3:55 p.m. TBS and TBS HD will cover them at 1:30 p.m. Sunday.

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