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Golf Channel Posts 2nd Most-Watched Third Quarter Ever, Trailing Only Olympics-Fueled 2016

By Golf Channel Public RelationsSeptember 28, 2017, 12:35 pm

Golf Channel Digital Records Highest Quarter of Streaming Consumption Ever, Marking 11th Straight Quarter of Year-Over-Year Growth 

Golf Channel Continues to Rank as No. 1 Most-Affluent Audience in All of Television in Total Day and Primetime

The Open, Slate of Women’s Golf Events, FedExCup Playoffs and World Long Drive Highlight 3rd Quarter Viewership

 ORLANDO, Fla. (September 28, 2017) – Golf Channel posted its 2nd most-watched third quarter on record after drawing 116,000 average viewers in Total Day, up 2% vs. 2015. Trailing 2016 with golf’s inclusion in the Rio Olympics, 2017’s third quarter was down 3% YOY and up 5% YOY when excluding Olympic content. This record viewership in a non-Olympic year was driven in part by The Open, a slate of premier women’s golf events, and the PGA TOUR’s FedExCup Playoffs. Golf Channel also continued the network’s run in drawing the most-affluent audience in all of television in both Total Day and Primetime, according to data released by The Nielsen Company.

GOLF CHANNEL THIRD QUARTER VIEWERSHIP SINCE JOINING NBC SPORTS GROUP IN 2011:

2017                116,000

2016                120,000                       -3% (+5% excluding Rio Olympics content)

2015                114,000                       +2%

2014                106,000                       +9%

2013                112,000                       +4%

2012                102,000                       +14%

2011                85,000                         +36%

2010                74,000                         +57%

GOLF CHANNEL DIGITAL POSTS RECORD STREAMING CONSUMPTION

Golf Channel Digital already has posted its highest quarter of streaming consumption ever with third quarter through Wed., Sept. 27 drawing a total of 171.2 million minutes (with an additional three days of streaming the 2017 Presidents Cup still to come in Golf Channel Digital’s third quarter). Third quarter is currently up 16% vs. 2016 third quarter in total live minutes streamed, which includes 2016 Rio Olympics content (up 58% vs. 2016 excluding Olympic content).

ADDITIONAL VIEWERSHIP NOTES FOR THIRD QUARTER, 2017

  • 2017 FedExCup Playoffs: Total Audience Delivery (TAD) for Golf Channel on NBC’s coverage of the last three FedExCup Playoff events was 2.137 million viewers, up 13% vs. 2016. And Golf Channel’s TAD for live early-round coverage of all four FedExCup Playoff events delivered 615k average viewers, up 27% vs. 2016.
  • The Open: This is the second year of NBC Sports’ coverage of The Open.
    • The final round’s TAD for Golf Channel on NBC was 4.97 million average viewers, up 1% vs. 2016.
    • Golf Channel on NBC’s linear broadcasts household rating (3.23) was the second highest for golf’s 2017 major championship final rounds: PGA Championship (3.22) and U.S. Open (3.12).
    • NBC Sports’ Digital platforms delivered 100.8 million live minutes streamed (+96% YOY), 917k unique devices (+51% YOY), and 34k average minute audience (+92% YOY). Golf Channel Digital for The Open week totaled 42 million page views (+12% YOY), the most for any week on record, and 8.9 million total visits (+18% YOY)
    • Women’s Golf:
      • KPMG Women’s PGA Championship: Seen by a total audience of 6.58 million viewers across Golf Channel and NBC, it marks the largest total audience for the event on record and second largest for women’s majors in 2017. Final round coverage on NBC posted a .6 US household rating (+18% YOY) and 840k average viewers (+21% YOY), making it the most-watched telecast in the event’s history (2006-2017), both ranking 2nd for women’s majors in 2017.
      • RICOH Women’s British Open: Seen by a total audience of 7.01 million viewers across Golf Channel and NBC, the RICOH Women’s British Open posted its largest total audience since 2005 (7.12 million), and was the largest total audience for the 2017 women’s majors. Final round coverage on NBC posted a .78 U.S. household rating (+22% YOY) and 1.1 million average viewers (+28% YOY), both ranking 1st for women’s majors in 2017, despite its morning/early afternoon timeslot.
      • 2017 Women’s Major Championships:
        • RICOH Women’s British Open (NBC): Final Round: .78 rating, 1.1 million avg. viewers; Four-Day Total Viewers: 7.01 million
        • KPMG Women’s PGA Championship (NBC): Final Round .60 rating, 840k avg. viewers; Four-Day Total Viewers: 6.58 million
        • U.S. Women’s Open (FOX): Final Round .56 rating, 790k viewers; Four-Day Total Viewers: 5.98 million
        • ANA Inspiration (Golf Channel): Final Round .35 rating, 551k viewers; Four-Day Total Viewers: 3.62 million
        • The Evian Championship (Golf Channel): Final Round .13 rating, 181k viewers; Four-Day Total Viewers: 3.13 million
    • Solheim Cup: Seen by a total audience of 7.3 million viewers across Golf Channel and NBC, the Solheim Cup posted the largest total audience for women’s golf since the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open on ESPN/NBC. Golf Channel’s live coverage of the final day drew 795k average viewers, becoming the most-watched women’s golf event on cable in the last eight years, since the final day of the 2009 Solheim Cup
  • FEHERTY 7th SEASON:
    • Became the most-watched season to date for both Live+Same Day (202k average viewers) and Live+3 Days (298k average viewers) for premiere episodes.
    • Feherty’s 100th Episode (July 24) was the 5th most-watched premiere episode of all time, trailing only both weeks of season premieres with Jordan Spieth (March 2016) and Phil Mickelson (March 2017).
    • The season finale with reigning PGA champion and eventual FedExCup champion Justin Thomas (263k average viewers-Live+3, Sept 4) became the 5th most-watched premiere in season 7, behind both season premieres with Phil Mickelson (640k average viewers-Live+3, 616k average viewers-Live+3), the April premiere with Matthew McConaughey (299k average viewers-Live+3) and the 100th Episode in July (421k average viewers-Live+3).
  • World Long Drive Association: Golf Channel expanded its schedule to feature three televised events in 2017, including the Clash in the Canyon (June 6, Mesquite, Nev.), Mile High Showdown (July 25, Denver, Colo.) and the Volvik World Long Drive Championship (Sept 5-6, Thackerville, Okla.).

    • Clash in the Canyon: 1.05 million unique viewers across all telecasts during premiere week of the newly televised event. (2nd Quarter)
    • Mile High Showdown: 1.34 million unique viewers across all telecasts during premiere week of the newly televised event.
    • Volvik World Long Drive Championship: 2.15 million unique viewers across all telecasts during premiere week, up 32% vs. 2016’s World Championship and the most-viewed World Long Drive Championship week in its five-year history on Golf Channel.
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Top-ranked amateur Niemann one back at LAAC in Chile

By Nick MentaJanuary 21, 2018, 8:44 pm

Argentina’s Jaime Lopez Rivarola leads the Latin America Amateur Championship at 5 under par following a round of 3-under 68 Saturday in Chile.

The former Georgia Bulldog is now 36 holes from a trip to Augusta.

He is followed on the leaderboard by the three players who competed in the playoff that decided last year’s LAAC in Panama: Joaquinn Niemann (-4), Toto Gana (-4), and Alvaro Ortiz (-3).

Chile’s Niemann is the top-ranked amateur in the world who currently holds conditional status on the Web.com Tour and is poised to begin his career as a professional, unless of course he takes the title this week. After a disappointing 74 in Round 1, Niemann was 10 shots better in Round 2, rocketing up the leaderboard with a 7-under 64.

Niemann’s fellow Chilean and best friend Gana is the defending champion who missed the cut at the Masters last year and is now a freshman at Lynn University. His second-round 70 was a roller coaster, complete with six birdies, three eagles and a double.

Mexico’s Ortiz, the brother of three-time Web.com Tour winner Carlos, was 6 under for the week before three back-nine bogeys dropped him off the pace.

Two past champions, Matias Dominguez and Paul Chaplet, sit 5 over and 7 over, respectively.

The winner of the Latin America Amateur Championship earns an invite to this year’s Masters. He is also exempt into the The Amateur Championship, the U.S. Amateur, U.S. Open sectional qualifying, and Open Championship final qualifying.

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McIlroy gets back on track

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 21, 2018, 3:10 pm

There’s only one way to view Rory McIlroy’s performance at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship:

He is well ahead of schedule.

Sure, McIlroy is probably disappointed that he couldn’t chase down Ross Fisher (and then Tommy Fleetwood) on the final day at Abu Dhabi Golf Club. But against a recent backdrop of injuries and apathy, his tie for third was a resounding success. He reasserted himself, quickly, and emerged 100 percent healthy.

“Overall, I’m happy,” he said after finishing at 18-under 270, four back of Fleetwood. “I saw some really, really positive signs. My attitude, patience and comfort level were really good all week.”

To fully appreciate McIlroy’s auspicious 2018 debut, consider his state of disarray just four months ago. He was newly married. Nursing a rib injury. Breaking in new equipment. Testing another caddie. His only constant was change. “Mentally, I wasn’t in a great place,” he said, “and that was because of where I was physically.”

And so he hit the reset button, taking the longest sabbatical of his career, a three-and-a-half-month break that was as much psychological as physical. He healed his body and met with a dietician, packing five pounds of muscle onto his already cut frame. He dialed in his TaylorMade equipment, shoring up a putting stroke and wedge game that was shockingly poor for a player of his caliber. Perhaps most importantly, he cleared his cluttered mind, cruising around Italy with wife Erica in a 1950s Mercedes convertible.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


After an intense buildup to his season debut, McIlroy was curious about the true state of his game, about how he’d stack up when he finally put a scorecard in his hand. It didn’t take him long to find out. 

Playing the first two rounds alongside Dustin Johnson – the undisputed world No. 1 who was fresh off a blowout victory at Kapalua – McIlroy beat him by a shot. Despite a 103-day competitive layoff, he played bogey-free for 52 holes. And he put himself in position to win, trailing by one heading into the final round. Though Fleetwood blew away the field with a back-nine 30 to defend his title, McIlroy collected his eighth top-5 in his last nine appearances in Abu Dhabi.

“I know it’s only three months,” he said, “but things change, and I felt like maybe I needed a couple of weeks to get back into the thought process that you need to get into for competitive golf. I got into that pretty quickly this week, so that was the most pleasing thing.”

The sense of relief afterward was palpable. McIlroy is entering his 11th full year as a pro, and deep down he likely realizes 2018 is shaping up as his most important yet.

The former Boy Wonder is all grown up, and his main challengers now are a freakish athlete (DJ) and a trio of players under 25 (Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm) who don’t lack for motivation or confidence. The landscape has changed significantly since McIlroy’s last major victory, in August 2014, and the only way he’ll be able to return to world No. 1 is to produce a sustained period of exceptional golf, like the rest of the game’s elite. (Based on average points, McIlroy, now ranked 11th, is closer to the bottom of the rankings, No. 1928, than to Johnson.)

But after years of near-constant turmoil, McIlroy, 28, finally seems ready to pursue that goal again. He is planning the heaviest workload of his career – as many as 30 events, including seven more starts before the Masters – and appears refreshed and reenergized, perhaps because this year, for the first time in a while, he is playing without distractions.

Not his relationships or his health. Not his equipment or his caddie or his off-course dealings.

Everything in his life is lined up.

Drama tends to follow one of the sport’s most captivating characters, but for now he can just play golf – lots and lots of golf. How liberating.

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Crocker among quartet of Open qualifiers in Singapore

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 2:20 pm

Former amateur standout Sean Crocker was among four players who qualified for the 147th Open via top-12 finishes this week at the Asian Tour's SMBC Singapore Open as part of the Open Qualifying Series.

Crocker had a strong college career at USC before turning pro late last year. The 21-year-old received an invitation into this event shortly thereafter, and he made the most of his appearance with a T-6 finish to net his first career major championship berth.

There were four spots available to those not otherwise exempt among the top 12 in Singapore, but winner Sergio Garcia and runners-up Shaun Norris and Satoshi Kodaira had already booked their tickets for Carnoustie. That meant that Thailand's Danthai Boonma and Jazz Janewattanond both qualified thanks to T-4 finishes.


Full-field scores from the Singapore Open


Crocker nabbed the third available qualifying spot, while the final berth went to Australia's Lucas Herbert. Herbert entered the week ranked No. 274 in the world and was the highest-ranked of the three otherwise unqualified players who ended the week in a tie for eighth.

The next event in the Open Qualifying Series will be in Japan at the Mizuno Open in May, when four more spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs. The 147th Open will be held July 19-22 in Carnoustie, Scotland.

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Got a second? Fisher a bridesmaid again

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:40 pm

Ross Fisher is in the midst of a career resurgence - he just doesn't have the hardware to prove it.

Fisher entered the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship with a share of the lead, and as he made the turn he appeared in position to claim his first European Tour victory since March 2014. But he slowed just as Tommy Fleetwood caught fire, and when the final putt fell Fisher ended up alone in second place, two shots behind his fellow Englishman.

It continues a promising trend for Fisher, who at age 37 now has 14 career runner-up finishes and three in his last six starts dating back to October. He was edged by Tyrrell Hatton both at the Italian Open and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in the fall, and now has amassed nine worldwide top-10 finishes since March.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


Fisher took a big step toward ending his winless drought with an eagle on the par-5 second followed by a pair of birdies, and he stood five shots clear of Fleetwood with only nine holes to go. But while Fleetwood played Nos. 10-15 in 4 under, Fisher played the same stretch in 2 over and was unable to eagle the closing hole to force a playoff.

While Fisher remains in search of an elusive trophy, his world ranking has benefited from his recent play. The veteran was ranked outside the top 100 in the world as recently as September 2016, but his Abu Dhabi runner-up result is expected to move him inside the top 30 when the new rankings are published.