By Anthony Crupi

Three months ago, Tiger Woods clawed out his first major championship win in 11 years, and in so doing, seemed to have put an end to a decade marked by frustration, failure and grievous injury. His triumph in Augusta was an assurance that more Sunday victories would come, and in defying the ravages of time and a rickety spinal column held together with duct tape and Bubble Yum, the 43-year-old served as a beacon of hope for aging duffers and network ad sales execs alike.

But much like his beleaguered vertebral discs and long-defunct marriage, the promise inherent in Tiger’s Masters comeback has disintegrated. This afternoon, after shooting a 78 in the first round of the Open Championship, a career third-worst performance at a major, Woods today went on to miss the cut at Royal Portrush. In so doing, the man with 15 major titles under his belt made NBC’s weekend a lot less sunny, while reminding the rest of us imperfect beings that joy is temporary and we’ve all got graves to fill.

Sigh.

After Thursday’s nightmare round, which saw Woods gimping and grimacing his way around the course, the golfer seemed resigned to his fate. “[It’s] just the way it is,” Woods said in a post-round interview. “Father Time and some procedures I’ve had over the time. Just the way it’s going to be.”

Existentialist dread aside, Woods’ early exit almost certainly will put the squeeze on NBC’s ratings prospects. Last year, Tiger led the pack at Carnoustie as he headed into the back nine of the Sunday round. And while he couldn’t quite close the deal—he finished at five-under 279, three strokes behind Claret Jug winner Francesco Molinari—Woods’ late run galvanized TV viewers.

According to Nielsen, the final round of the 2018 Open averaged 6.48 million viewers and a 4.3 household rating, making it the tournament’s most-watched round since 2000. That the deliveries weren’t even bigger speaks to the time difference between the U.K. and the U.S.; NBC’s coverage of the event airs from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. EDT, or from 4 a.m. to 11 a.m. for those on the West Coast.

Since Woods bagged his first major 22 years ago, the Tiger Effect has had a steroidal impact on Sunday golf ratings and average unit costs. When Woods won the Masters in April 1997, crushing runner-up Tom Kite by 12 strokes, he helped establish an all-time ratings record, as CBS’s coverage of the final round averaged a staggering 20.3 million viewers and a 14.1 household rating.

As the attendant grief of four back surgeries and a host of other troubles largely neutralized Woods’ ratings magic for the better part of the last decade, the viewers began returning as soon as he found his groove again. When Tiger battled to a second-place finish behind Brooks Koepka in the 2018 PGA Championship, CBS’s deliveries soared to a nine-year high.

But Tiger giveth and Tiger taketh away—when he missed the cut at this year’s PGA tourney, the Sunday ratings plummeted 40 percent.

Since the decade began, …read more

Via:: Ad Age B to B