Masters: CBS Scores Highest Rated Golf Telecast In Five Years
Despite an Easter Sunday finish and Saturday's mess, the 2023 Masters scores impressive ratings. Plus, a notes on CBS's added production touches.
CBS was especially quick to announce its 2023 Masters overnight numbers. And for good reason.
Normally careful not to make The Masters all about digits and data, the network enjoyed a nice uptick in audience size over the last two years. This, despite the Easter finish, a lack of Tiger presence Sunday and a regrettable decision to show taped golf during the Saturday window. The numbers reinforce how that choice impacted the numbers in a profound manner that hopefully ensures no future repeats.
Incorporating all platforms, the television rating number is down from past years but you can see the climb in audience “delivery” thanks to better tracking of the growing streaming audience:
Sunday: 5.48/12,058,000/3,352,000 18-49 vs 2022’s 5.83 10,173,000/2,290,000 18-49
Sunday morning’s restart on CBS drew a 2.49 rating and 4.2 million average.
Saturday: 2.16/3,800,000/884,000 18-49 vs. 2022’s 4.30/7,434,000/1,550,000 18-49
CBS ran 90 minutes of pre-planned Masters shows Saturday and stuck with the appointed telecast start time of 3 p.m. EDT when rain forced an early start to round three. At the same time, Masters.com withheld leaders from its “Featured Group” stream and the audience numbers suggest folks tuned out in frustration.
In announcing the ratings, CBS touted average delivery of 16.251 million total viewers Saturday and Sunday, making it the most watched golf telecast since Patrick Reed’s 2018 win:
Sunday's presentation on CBS totaled 16.251 million viewers in combined average viewership for the conclusion of the Third Round and the Final Round.
The Final Round on CBS is the most-watched golf telecast on any network in five years (2018 Masters Final Round, 13.045 million viewers), averaging 12.058 million viewers and up +19% vs. last year.
Viewership on Sunday peaked with more than 15 million viewers (15.021) from 7:00-7:15 PM, ET.
Sunday’s Final Round also became the most-streamed round of golf ever on Paramount+, while recording double-digit year-over-year growth across households, minutes, and average minute audience (AMA) vs. last year’s final round of the Masters.
According to The Athletic’s Bill Shea, the Masters final round has averaged 11.2 million viewers over the last ten years, a number hurt by the early start to 2019’s epic final round and 2020’s November playing.
2021’s final day featuring Hideki Matsuyama’s win averaged 9.5 million viewers.
This was the first Easter Sunday finish since Bubba Watson’s victory in 2012. Once thought to impact audience size, the last three Easter Sunday’s have fared well based on ratings posted at SportsMediaWatch.com:
Given changes in viewing habits and platforms, the 2023 numbers look especially impressive given the rain delays and Saturday programming issues.
Outside of that mistaken effort, CBS quietly pushed a few more boundaries with its Masters coverage. While we’re now accustomed to many of these enhancements, I wanted to share a few as a reminder of elements like aerial views, tracer and graphics once off-limits in Augusta are now part of the show.
Coming off a Florida and Texas swing where NBC only used tracer if it was sponsored and too rarely on tee shots, CBS employed tracer aggressively both at tees and in fairways. This shot of Brooks Koepka at the first gave us an immediate insight into how his final round might go:
CBS has installed more unmanned cameras on key tee shots to give us a wide and higher rear view perspective popularized by Fox in its U.S. Open coverage:
The view gives us a better sense of the hole design and issues faced compared to the traditional lower rear view immediately behind the player teeing off: