Masters: TV ratings decline sharply despite Scottie Scheffler’s historic victory

The numbers are in from the 2024 Masters Tournament, and they should worry everyone associated with the sport.

CBS Sports drew 9.589 million viewers for the final round at Augusta National, a 20% decrease from when Jon Rahm triumphed a season ago, according to Josh Carpenter of Sports Business Journal.

With that said, last year’s final round fell on Easter Sunday, leading to more viewers and a significantly higher out-of-home lift on the holiday: +21% in 2023 versus +9% this year, per CBS Sports.

Coverage peaked at 12.562 million during the 7:00-7:15 p.m. ET quarter hour, when Scottie Scheffler putted out for the win.

Still, Scheffler’s historic victory had the lowest ratings of any Masters since 2021, when Hideki Matsuyama’s first major win drew 9.450 million.

But these numbers are nothing new to professional golf in 2024.

“If you look at the TV ratings of the PGA Tour this year, they’re down 20 percent across the board. That’s a fifth. That’s big… 20 percent’s a pretty jarring number.” McIlroy said ahead of the Valero Texas Open.

Scottie Scheffler, The Masters

Scottie Scheffler and caddie Ted Scott celebrate on the 18th green after winning the 2024 Masters.
Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images

“I would say the numbers on LIV aren’t great either in terms of the people tuning in. I just think with the fighting and everything that’s gone on over the past couple of years, people are just getting really fatigued from it. It’s turning people off men’s professional golf, and that’s not a good thing for anyone.”

The numbers do not lie.

The PGA Tour-LIV Golf divide has turned many fans away while creating plenty of infighting among players, fans, and pundits alike. LIV has taken many of the tour’s top talent away, most notably Rahm, who jettisoned to the Saudi-backed circuit for more than $400 million in December.

But this past week, unlike any other event so far in 2024, LIV golfers played alongside PGA Tour stars. Thirteen players from LIV Golf teed it up, with Bryson DeChambeau, Cameron Smith, and Tyrrell Hatton contending. Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka, and Rahm also created some excitement, but it did not translate to widespread interest.

Instead, people tuned away from The Masters, which typically draws the largest audience of any golf tournament each year.

Nonetheless, McIlroy, who has called for a unification between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf, predicted this possibility ahead of his solo third-place finish at TPC San Antonio.

Rory McIlroy, The Masters

Rory McIlroy on the 6th hole during the third round of the 2024 Masters.
Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

“If the numbers aren’t as good, it’s an argument to say we need to put everyone back together because people are losing interest in the game even if they don’t want to tune in to the four major championships,” McIlroy hypothesized on Apr. 3.

“Things need a correction, and things are unsustainable because I’m close with NBC and the people who really care about these things and the people who tune in to watch golf.”

Only one tournament on the PGA Tour this year has seen a year-to-year increase in ratings. That would be The American Express, which saw Nick Dunlap become the first amateur to win on tour since Mickelson did so in 1991.

It took a historic occurrence for the tour to see gains, a massive problem.

Even Scheffler’s unprecedented title defense at TPC Sawgrass did not produce a ratings increase in March, something that should concern PGA Tour brass. Scheffler’s masterful 8-under 64 on Sunday led him to finish one stroke ahead of Wyndham Clark and Brian Harman, in what many called the best tournament of the year.

Yet, that drew only 3.5 million viewers, down from 4.1 million a season ago.

The numbers do not lie, and they are screaming to everyone that professional golf is in dire straits.

Jack Milko is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough for more golf coverage. You can follow him on Twitter @jack_milko as well.

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