In a recent turn of events, CBS experienced a slump in its viewership for the final round of the PGA Championship. The prestigious tournament, which crowned Brooks Koepka as its champion, amassed a total of 4.517 million viewers. This was a dramatic decrease, marking the lowest viewer count since 2008, which had drawn 4.020 million viewers. Compared to 2022, the viewership was down by 14%, a stark contrast from the 5.273 million that tuned in to watch Justin Thomas clinch the title last year.
To put it into perspective, the trend of Sunday viewership for the PGA has seen some fluctuation over the years. In 2021, the championship had an impressive 6.583 million viewers, thanks in large part to golf fans tuning in to see Phil Mickelson’s remarkable win. The previous year, 2020, garnered 5.153 million viewers, despite the tournament being held in August. And in 2019, the championship attracted 5.008 million viewers.
🚨JUST IN: PGA RATINGS SUFFER — Just 4.517M people tuned in for Sunday’s final round at Oak Hill, the lowest viewership for the event since 2008 and down 14% from JT’s win last year. If it weren’t for Michael Block, it may have been catastrophically bad numbers 🤯 (via…
— NUCLR GOLF (@NUCLRGOLF) May 23, 2023
Here are the viewing figures year-over-year for the PGA Championship’s final round:
- 2023: 4.52M
- 2022: 5.27M
- 2021: 6.58M
- 2020: 5.15M
- 2019: 5.00M
The year-over-year decrease over the last two years is as follows:
- 2023 vs 2022: Decrease of 14%
- 2022 vs 2021: Decrease of 20%
Saturday Viewing Figures Also Down Year-Over-Year
Even the Saturday coverage of the PGA Championship felt the sting of lowered viewership. The numbers indicate an average of 3.222 million viewers on CBS, which again was a decrease, down 11% from the 3.623 million viewers of the previous year.
Saturday coverage viewership (in millions):
- 2023: 3.22M
- 2022: 3.62M
Percentage decrease in Saturday coverage viewership:
- 2023 vs 2022: Decrease of 11%
LIV Defectors Atop Leaderboard Off-Putting For Viewers?
Diving into the why, one possible factor could be the presence of Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau at the top of the leaderboard as the final round kicked off. Both players, notorious for their defection from LIV, could have turned away some traditional golf enthusiasts. This speculation, however, still remains as part of a larger conversation on the future of golf’s viewer base.
Furthermore, a clash with other major sporting events might also have contributed to the dip in numbers. With the NHL Conference Championships also being broadcast around the same time, the competition for viewers was fierce. In such a scenario, it is plausible that a significant portion of the audience chose to tune into that instead.
In retrospect, Mickelson’s 2021 win was a big hit, drawing a large number of viewers to the screen. His victory was not just a personal achievement, but it also sparked widespread interest, contributing to the viewership high of that year. The lack of a similar captivating narrative this year could partly explain the downturn.
The PGA Championship remains one of the most prestigious tournaments in golf. However, these recent numbers signal the need for a revamp in strategy to retain and attract viewers.
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