Golf Channel Matches Highest-Rated Year Ever in 2015

By Golf Channel Public RelationsJanuary 5, 2016, 3:00 pm

Millennial Audience Grows 50% Year-over-Year

Golf Channel Digital Scores Best Year Ever Across All Platforms

Golf Channel Encourages More Golfers to Play More Golf through Portfolio of Digital Lifestyle Brands, Highlighted by 15.2 Million Rounds Booked via GolfNow

In 2015, Golf Channel matched its highest-rated year ever (.11 HH Cvg Rtg, 24-hour Total Day 6AM-6AM) for the second consecutive year, according to data released by The Nielsen Company. Additionally, viewership growth was driven in part by “Millennials” with impressions for Persons 25-34 increasing +50% in Total Day, +17% in Primetime and +22% for PGA TOUR coverage. Since joining NBC Sports Group in 2011, Golf Channel has scored its five best years ever and has increased ratings +57% and viewership +43% over that span. Also in 2015, Golf Channel continued as the No. 1 most-affluent ad-supported television network in both total day and primetime for the second consecutive year.

“Golf Channel’s success in 2015 was fueled by the most live coverage ever, which featured a young crop of players making names for themselves as the future stars of the game. In 2016, we will build on this momentum with the addition of an exciting 12-week span that includes The Open, Olympics, FedExCup Playoffs and Ryder Cup,” said Mike McCarley, president of Golf Channel. “Additionally, we are carrying that momentum beyond traditional TV with millions of our loyal viewers engaging with us daily across our portfolio of digital and golf lifestyle brands.”

73 MILLION CONSUME LIVE GOLF VIA NBC SPORTS GROUP: In 2015, NBC Sports Group reached more than 73 million unique viewers via Golf Channel on NBC broadcasts and Golf Channel, which provided more live tournament golf coverage than all other U.S. television networks combined. Golf Channel televised 128 events that reached more than 500k viewers (+133% vs. 2010, +14% vs. 2014) and 13 events that reached more than 1 million viewers (+117% vs. 2010, +225% vs. 2014). This led to Golf Channel posting its second most-watched year (99,000 average viewers, 24-hour Total Day 6AM-6AM, 1% vs. 2014), surpassed only by 2013.

105 MILLION VISITS TO GOLF CHANNEL DIGITAL: Golf Channel’s success extended across all platforms, including more than 105 million visits to Golf Channel Digital, which again saw best-ever results in key metrics for traffic, live streaming consumption, mobile app usage and social media followers. Golf Channel also helped connect more golfers to the game via its portfolio of digital lifestyle brands, including GolfNow, which utilizes technology to encourage more golfers to play more golf and helped golf course partners book more than 15.2 million rounds of golf in 2015, a 13% increase vs. 2014.

CARRYING MOMENTUM INTO 2016: A transformational year ahead for golf and NBC Sports Group, highlighted by:

  • Golf Channel’s coverage from every round of each PGA TOUR event, featuring an emerging roster of young superstars, including Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, Rickie Fowler and Dustin Johnson, resuming in primetime this Thursday, Jan. 7 from Hawaii with the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.
  • David Feherty calling live tournament action for the first time on NBC, complementing his talk show Feherty on Golf Channel and his contributions to Golf Central and Morning Drive
  • The Open, NBC Sports Group’s inaugural event of their long-term partnership with the R&A (July 14-17, Royal Troon Golf Club, Scotland)
  • Four of five LPGA Tour major championships on Golf Channel and NBC
  • Golf’s return to the Olympics for the first time since 1904 (Men’s: Aug. 11-14; Women’s: Aug. 17-20; Rio de Janeiro)
  • PGA TOUR’s FedExCup Playoffs (Aug. 25-Sept. 25)
  • The Ryder Cup (Sept.30-Oct. 1, Hazeltine National Golf Club, Minneapolis)



Household Cvg Rating


% vs. ’10





















In 2010, Golf Channel posted a .07 household coverage rating.


  • Strong Finish to 2015 after Young Stars Energize (24-hour Total Day 6AM-6AM):
    • First Quarter                 -14% YOY
    • Second Quarter            +3% YOY – Tied Most-Watched Second Quarter Ever
    • Third Quarter               +8% YOY – Most-Watched Third Quarter Ever
    • Fourth Quarter             +13% YOY
    • “Millennial” Growth on Golf Channel (Average Viewers P25-34):
      • +50% in Total Day with Persons 25-34
      • +17% in Primetime with Persons 25-34
      • +22% for PGA TOUR coverage with Persons 25-34
      • Most-Affluent Audience in All of Television:
        • Total Day: No. 1 most-affluent ad-supported television network for median household income ($77.1k) for the second consecutive year
        • Primetime: No. 1 most-affluent ad-supported television network for median household income ($83.6k) for the second consecutive year
        • Comprehensive Coverage of Golf’s Biggest Events (Average Viewers P2+):
          • Golf Channel on NBC coverage of PGA TOUR up 5% vs. 2014
          • Golf Channel’s live coverage of the PGA TOUR was up 9% in 2015 (January-September)
          • Golf Channel and Golf Channel on NBC live coverage of the FedExCup Playoffs saw a 22% increase vs. 2014
          • 40% Year-over-Year Growth for Golf Central’s “Live From” across all four men’s major championships and The Players. These weeks saw year-over-year increases:
            • Masters                        +33% – Second Best Masters Week Ever
            • The Players                  +23% – Second Best Players Week Ever
            • U.S. Open                    +17% – Second Best U.S. Open Week Ever
            • The Open                     +30% – Best Open Championship Week Ever
            • PGA Championship      +6% – Best PGA Championship Week Ever
            • Viewership Records Set at LPGA Tour’s Major Championships on Golf Channel and NBC:
              • ANA Inspiration’s second round posted the most-watched early round in 20 years
              • Inaugural KPMG Women’s PGA Championship was 2015’s second most-watched women’s golf event
              • Evian Championship posted most-watched opening and third rounds since becoming a major championship in 2013
              • Golf Channel’s Coverage of College Golf:
                • 2015 NCAA Men’s & Women’s Golf Championships reached more than 2.2 million viewers and averaged 250,000 viewers, which is +50% vs. same time periods in 2014
                • November’s East Lake Cup reached more than 1.1 million viewers, and live coverage lifted time periods +50% vs. 2014’s fourth quarter average
                • Growth for All Programming Genres vs. Same Time Period in 2010:

Rating   (HH Cvg.)

Average   Viewers

Live   Tournament Coverage






Golf   Central



Morning   Drive



Instructional   Programming




RECORD GROWTH FOR GOLF CHANNEL DIGITAL (all percentages year-over-year):

  • Golf Channel Digital Posts Best Year Ever For All Key Metrics:
    • average monthly uniques +22%, video starts +18%, page views +12%
    • Golf Channel Mobile App: page views +45%, average monthly uniques +15%, video starts +14%
    • Golf Channel’s Apps expand reach with more than 4.2 million downloads, including Golf Channel Mobile, Golf Live Extra and Golf Channel Academy
    • Live Streaming: Golf Live Extra drew 133.3 million total minutes streamed (+41%).
      • Since launch in 2013, 317 million minutes of golf programming have been streamed
      • Social Media Presence: Golf Channel Social Media platforms are up 35% with more than 5.1 million followers across its platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Golf Channel’s on-air team has nearly 1.8 million collective social media followers, showing a 20% increase.
      • Leading Golf Course Review Resource: Launched in 2014, Golf Advisor is home to more than 450,000 reviews by golfers providing authentic insight on more than 10,000 courses in nearly 150 countries around the globe.


  • “Go Play!” Golf Participation: GolfNow, the world’s leading technology company specializing in golf-related products and services with the most popular online tee time reservation platform, helped golfers book more than 15.2 million rounds of golf in 2015, a 13% increase year-over-year, at nearly 9,000 golf courses worldwide.
  • Golf Course Technology: GolfNow aided nearly 9,000 golf courses to more efficiently run their businesses via a portfolio of specifically designed software and services.
  • High-Quality Instruction: Golf Channel’s instructional content continues to evolve beyond television. The Golf Channel Academy app features more than 2,500 curated instructional videos. And in 2015, Golf Channel launched instruction facilities also branded Golf Channel Academy, which feature a network of the most-recognized coaching names in the industry at premier golf locations across North America. In Golf Channel Academy’s first year, 68 facilities in 28 top markets make up the network, employing more than 200 top-caliber coaches.
  • Largest Amateur Tour in Golf: The 2015 Golf Channel Amateur Tour featured more than 6,700 avid amateur golfers logging 56,700 competitive rounds at more than 700 tournaments held in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico, culminating in the 2015 National Championship in Palm Springs, Calif. at PGA West with the maximum 1,235 players competing.


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Langer not playing to pass Irwin, but he just might

By Tim RosaforteJanuary 16, 2018, 1:40 pm

Bernhard Langer goes back out on tour this week to chase down more than Hale Irwin’s PGA Tour Champions record of 45 career victories. His chase is against himself.

“I’m not playing to beat Hale Irwin’s record,” Langer told me before heading to Hawaii to defend his title at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai. “I play golf to play the best I can, to be a good role model, and to enjoy a few more years that are left.”

Langer turned 60 on Aug. 27 and was presented a massage chair by his family as a birthday gift. Instead of reclining (which he does to watch golf and football), he won three more times to close out a seven-win campaign that included three major championships. A year prior, coming off a four-victory season, Langer told me after winning his fourth Charles Schwab Cup that surpassing Irwin’s record was possible but not probable. With 36 career victories and 11 in his last two years, he has changed his tone to making up the nine-tournament difference as “probable.”

“If I could continue a few more years on that ratio, I could get close or pass him,” Langer told me from his home in Boca Raton, Fla. “It will get harder. I’m 60 now. It’s a big challenge but I don’t shy away from challenges.”

Bernhard Langer, Hale Irwin at the 1991 Ryder Cup (Getty Images)

Langer spent his off-season playing the PNC Father/Son, taking his family on a ski vacation at Big Sky in Yellowstone, Montana, and to New York for New Year’s. He ranks himself as a scratch skier, having skied since he was four years old in Germany. The risk of injury is worth it, considering how much he loves “the scenery, the gravity and the speed.”

Since returning from New York, Langer has immersed himself into preparing for the 2018 season. Swing coach Willy Hoffman, who he has worked with since his boyhood days as an as assistant pro in Germany, flew to Florida for their 43rd year of training.

“He’s a straight shooter,” Hoffman told me. “He says, 'Willy, every hour is an hour off my life and we have 24 hours every day.'"

As for Irwin, they have maintained a respectful relationship that goes back to their deciding singles match in the 1991 Ryder Cup. Last year they were brought back to Kiawah Island for a corporate appearance where they reminisced and shared the thought that nobody should ever have to bear what Langer went through, missing a 6-footer on the 18th green. That was 27 years ago. Both are in the Hall of Fame.

"I enjoy hanging out with Hale," Langer says.

Langer’s chase of Irwin’s record is not going to change their legacies. As Hoffman pointed out, “Yes, (Bernhard) is a rich man compared to his younger days. He had no money, no nothing. But today you don’t feel a difference when you talk to him. He’s always on the ground.”

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McIlroy: Ryder Cup won't be as easy as USA thinks

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 1:18 pm

The Americans have won their past two international team competitions by a combined score of 38-22, but Rory McIlroy isn’t expecting another pushover at the Ryder Cup in September.

McIlroy admitted that the U.S. team will be strong, and that its core of young players (including Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler) will be a force for the next decade. But he told reporters Tuesday at the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship that course setup will play a significant role.

“If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said, referring to the Americans’ 17-11 victory in 2016. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

At every Ryder Cup, the home team has the final say on course setup. Justin Rose was the most outspoken about the setup at Hazeltine, saying afterward that it was “incredibly weak” and had a “pro-am feel.” 

And so this year’s French Open figures to be a popular stop for European Tour players – it’s being held once again at Le Golf National, site of the matches in September. Tommy Fleetwood won last year’s event at 12 under.

“I’m confident,” McIlroy said. “Everything being all well and good, I’ll be on that team and I feel like we’ll have a really good chance.

“The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that. The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.” 

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Floodlights may be used at Dubai Desert Classic

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 12:44 pm

No round at next week’s Dubai Desert Classic will be suspended because of darkness.

Tournament officials have installed state-of-the-art floodlighting around the ninth and 18th greens to ensure that all 132 players can finish their round.

With the event being moved up a week in the schedule, the European Tour was initially concerned about the amount of daylight and trimmed the field to 126 players. Playing under the lights fixed that dilemma.

“This is a wonderful idea and fits perfectly with our desire to bring innovation to our sport,” European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley said. “No professional golfer ever wants to come back the following morning to complete a round due to lack of daylight, and this intervention, should it be required, will rule out that necessity.”

Next week’s headliners include Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson. 

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Ortiz takes Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

Former Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Tour Player of the Year.

McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.