NBC's Golf Coverage, Largest U.S. Audience in 2016; Golf Channel Highest-Rated Year

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NBC's Golf Coverage Draws Largest U.S. Audience in 2016 with 71 Million Unique Viewers, Up 27% Year-over-Year

Golf Channel Matches Highest-Rated Year Ever in 2016

Millennial Audience Grows 33% Year-over-Year, Doubles over Past 2 Years

Golf Channel Digital Scores Best Year Ever Across All Platforms

NBC Sports’ Golf Channel on NBC coverage drew the largest U.S. broadcast golf audience in 2016 with 71 million unique viewers, +27% vs. 2015 and NBC Sports’ largest total audience for live golf coverage since 2013. Building upon NBC Sports’ slate of marquee PGA TOUR events, viewership growth was driven by the addition of long-term partnerships with The Open and Ryder Cup, as well as golf returning to the Olympics. With the most live hours of coverage in network history, Golf Channel also drew its largest total audience with almost 45 million unique viewers. As a result of a continued investment in high-quality, live programming, Golf Channel matched its highest-rated year ever for the third consecutive year (.08 U.S. household rating, 24-hour total day 6AM-6AM) since the network was founded 22 years ago by Arnold Palmer. After joining NBC Sports Group in 2011, Golf Channel has scored its six best years ever and has increased ratings +60% and viewership +53% over that span,  according to data released by The Nielsen Company. Additional highlights include:

  • Golf Channel one of four sports networks experiencing 2016 viewership growth
  • The Open, Ryder Cup propel Golf Channel to most-watched day ever record, twice
  • Golf Channel posts seventh consecutive quarter of year-over-year growth

“NBC Sports’ golf coverage had a transformational year in 2016 with the addition of robust, multi-platform coverage of The Open, Olympics, and a U.S. hosted Ryder Cup – all in a 12-week span. These high-quality, live events coupled with an affluent, loyal and younger audience across all platforms helped fuel the success of golf within the NBC Sports Group,” said Mike McCarley, president of Golf, NBC Sports Group. “With more live coverage than ever before, including more live golf coverage than all other networks combined, Golf Channel has experienced tremendous growth since joining the NBC Sports Group in 2011 and now provides more live coverage than ever before. With this growth, we firmly believe the best is yet to come.”

TELEVISED GOLF REACHES 89.7 MILLION VIA NBC SPORTS LINEAR CHANNELS

In 2016, Golf Channel and NBC reached nearly 90 million unique viewers by providing more live tournament golf coverage than all other U.S. television networks combined. Golf Channel televised 139 events that reached more than 500k viewers (+83% vs. 2010) and 13 events that reached more than 1 million viewers (+117% vs. 2010), representing double-digit growth since joining the NBC Sports Group in 2011.

1 OF ONLY 4 SPORTS NETWORKS WITH VIEWERSHIP GROWTH IN 2016

Golf Channel’s  8% growth for average viewership and 11% growth for persons 25-54 ranked third among all sports networks, which in 2016 only saw four networks experience growth:

 

Average Viewership

Persons 25-54

1. NBCSN

+14%

+15%

2. FS1

+11%

+14%

3. Golf Channel

+8%

+11%

4. NBA TV

+8%

+9%

All Other Sports Networks

All Experienced Decline

All Experienced Decline

GOLF CHANNEL TWICE SETS RECORD FOR MOST-WATCHED DAY IN NETWORK HISTORY

Golf Channel first set its record for most-watched total day in network history on Friday, July 15 with second round coverage of The Open (584k average viewers), which included 14 consecutive hours of live coverage from Royal Troon, Scotland. Then on Friday, September 30, Day 1 coverage of the Ryder Cup propelled the network to a new record for most-watched day in network history (673k average viewers), which included 10.5 hours of live coverage.

7 CONSECUTIVE QUARTERS OF YEAR-OVER-YEAR GROWTH

Golf Channel has posted seven consecutive quarters of year-over-year growth, including second and third quarters posting all-time quarterly high marks in 2016 (125,000 and 121,000 average viewers, respectively), and fourth quarter being the most watched since 2011 (72,000 average viewers). Ultimately, Golf Channel posted its second most-watched year ever (107,000 average viewers, 24-hour total day 6AM-6AM, +8% vs. 2015), surpassed only slightly by 2013 (108,000 average viewers).

KEY YOUNG & AFFLUENT DEMOS CONTRIBUTE TO CONTINUED GROWTH

Viewership growth was driven in part by millennials with impressions for persons 25-34 increasing +33% in total day, a mark that has doubled over the past two years, as well as +43% in primetime. Also in 2016, Golf Channel continued as the No. 1 most-affluent ad-supported television network in both total day and primetime for the third consecutive year with the highest median household income.

RECORD GROWTH FOR GOLF CHANNEL DIGITAL

Golf Channel’s success extended across all platforms, including more than 264 million live streaming minutes (+96% vs. 2015) via Golf Channel Digital, which also saw best-ever results in key metrics for video starts (48 million, +19%), page views (894 million, +2%), and unique devices (4.9 million, .5%). 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.

TOP SIX YEARS IN GOLF CHANNEL HISTORY SINCE JOINING NBC SPORTS GROUP

 

Average Viewers

% YOY

% vs. ’10

2016

107k

+8%

+53%

2015

99k

+1%

+41%

2014

98k

-9%

+40%

2013

108k

+13%

+54%

2012

96k

+7%

+37%

2011

90k

+29%

+29%

In 2010, Golf Channel posted 70k average viewers, total day.

ADDITIONAL 2016 GOLF CHANNEL VIEWERSHIP HIGHLIGHTS

  • Growth Throughout the Year (average viewers, 24-hour total day 6AM-6AM)
    First Quarter                 +15 % YOY     Most-Watched Feb. & March since 2013
    Second Quarter             +1 % YOY       Most-Watched 2nd Quarter Ever
    Third Quarter                +6 % YOY       Most-Watched 3rd Quarter Ever
    Fourth Quarter              +16 % YOY     Most Watched 4th Quarter since 2011
    The Open
    NBC Sports’ first-ever live coverage of The Open finished as the most-watched final round since 2009, and finished +20% vs. 2015. Overall, coverage reached 20.8 million unique viewers across NBC and Golf Channel, +10% vs. 2015 and highest since 2012.
    Golf Channel’s first-ever live coverage of a men’s major championship at The Open propelled the network to be a Top-5 cable network during Thursday and Friday coverage with total viewers and the No. 1 cable sports network with both average viewers and persons 25-54 (6 a.m.–2 p.m. ET).
    Live streaming of NBC Sports’ coverage of The Open delivered 51.3 million minutes on 606k unique devices across all platforms, marking all-time highs for an NBC Sports golf event.
    Ryder Cup
    NBC Sports’ first-ever comprehensive coverage of the Ryder Cup from a U.S. venue across both NBC and Golf Channel reached 22.2 million unique viewers.
    Golf Channel was the No. 1 cable sports network by 319% and the No. 2 cable network from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET on Friday.
    Across all NBC Sports Digital platforms, live streaming of the Ryder Cup delivered 35.1 million minutes on 487k unique devices and an average-minutes audience of 22k, which is the highest average-minutes audience ever for an NBC Sports golf event.
    Olympics
    For the first time in more than 100 years, golf returned to the Olympics, and 24.5 million unique viewers watched coverage across Golf Channel and NBC, including 21 million unique viewers who watched the men’s competition on Golf Channel and NBC and 5.5 million unique viewers who watched the women’s competition on Golf Channel.
    Golf Channel and NBC both aired the conclusion of the men’s competition and this was the second highest-rated 90 minutes of golf in 2016, only behind the Masters, with a combined 5.6 U.S. household rating and 8.578 million average viewers.
    Notable Live Tournament Programming

 

Average Viewership vs. 2015

PGA TOUR, NBC

+6%

PGA TOUR, Golf Channel

-11%

LPGA Tour

-3%

European Tour

+20%

PGA TOUR Champions

-3%

Web.com Tour

-10%

NCAA National Championships

+39%

Additional Golf Channel Programming
Golf Centralviewership +5% vs. 2015 for average viewership and persons 25-54. This is Golf Central’smost-watched year since 2013.
Morning Drive’s average viewership was even vs. 2015, but +27% with persons 25-54, the highest performance with this key demo since 2013.
Feherty posted its best season ever with total average viewers. March premieres featuring Jordan Spieth (Part 1: 325k average viewers, Part 2: 351k average viewers) and Jason Day (279k average viewers) were the most-watched premieres since the series debuted in June 2011 (Live+Same Day DVR). Both Jordan Spieth premieres became the most-watched Feherty episodes ever, averaging more than 430k average viewers on a Live+3 basis.
Golf Channel’s primetime delivery overall was +2% vs. 2015 (123k average viewers)
Additional Golf Channel Digital Highlights
Golf Channel Mobile App exceeded 11 million video starts, the most ever, +46% vs. 2015.
Social Media Presence: Golf Channel Social Media platforms are up 33% with more than 1.9 million followers across its platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Golf Channel’s on-air team has nearly 2 million collective social media followers, an 18% increase vs. 2015.
Leading Golf Course Review Resource: Launched in 2014, Golf Advisor is home to more than 543,000 reviews by golfers providing authentic insight on more than 12,300 courses worldwide.

Sources: All Nielsen data Live+Same Day unless otherwise noted. 2016 (12/28/15-12/25/16) vs. 2015 (12/29/14-12/27/15) and prior years as listed, using program based strict quarter-hour data. Reach totals based on 6-minute qualifier and full-year unification. Additional details available. Digital Metrics from Adobe Reports & Analytics.