With a star-laden leaderboard and compelling on-course drama over four days, ESPN scored its highest ratings since it began airing The Open Championship for the event that concluded Sunday at Royal Lytham & St Annes in Lancashire, England.
ESPN’s Saturday (9 a.m. ET) and Sunday (8 a.m.) telecasts were the highest-rated Open Championship telecasts on cable and both saw large ratings gains over last year, including double-digit growth in younger demographics. And many of ESPN’s digital platforms saw double-digit increases over 2011, with WatchESPN and ESPN3 up 140 percent.
Coverage of Sunday’s final round from 8 a.m. – 1:55 p.m. on ESPN earned a 3.6 household coverage rating, averaging 4,227,000 viewers, according to Nielsen fast nationals, with the rating up 38 percent over last year’s 2.6.
Saturday’s telecast from 9 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. earned a 3.1 rating, averaging 3,545,000 viewers, up 48 percent from last year’s 2.1 rating.
ESPN’s telecasts of the opening rounds on Thursday and Friday also saw double-digit increases, with Thursday’s 7 a.m. – 3:15 p.m. telecast earning a 1.2 rating and averaging 1,343,000 viewers, the rating up 71 percent from last year’s 0.7 for the same time period. Friday’s 7 a.m. – 3:15 p.m. coverage saw an even larger increase, earning a 1.6 rating, up 78 percent from last year’s 0.9, and averaging 1,771,000 viewers.
Overall for the four days, ESPN’s Open Championship coverage was up double digits in younger demographics, including up 80 percent in Males ages 18-34, 66 percent in Persons ages 18-34 and 57 percent in males ages 18-49.
Saturday and Sunday’s encore presentations airing on ABC from 3-6 p.m. were also up in metered market ratings, with Saturday’s telecast earning a 1.3 metered market rating, up from a 1.0 last year, and Sunday earning a 1.6, up from a 0.9 last year.
Across ESPN digital platforms – including ESPN.com, the mobile Web Golf section, ScoreCenter, Fantasy Golf, ESPN3 and WatchESPN – The Open Championship logged an average minute audience of 46,400, up 40 percent compared to the previous year. The ESPN.com Golf section averaged 728,000 daily unique visitors and 5.6 million total daily minutes over the four days of the event, up 27 percent and 5 percent, respectively. Additionally, a total of 2.6 million video views to golf content is up 36 percent compared to last year. On the ESPN mobile Web, the Golf section generated 685,000 average daily unique visitors (up 11 percent) and an average of 5.8 million minutes per day (up 16 percent). Live coverage of The Open Championship on ESPN3 and WatchESPN generated 61.5 million minutes across computers, smartphones, tablets and Xbox, up 140 percent compared to the event in 2011.