ORLANDO, Fla. (Jan. 4, 2012) – 2011 was the most-watched year in Golf Channel history. The network’s first year as part of the NBC Sports Group finished on Dec. 31 as the most-watched year in the network’s 17-year history, according to data released by Nielsen Research.
Viewership in 2011 was up almost 30 percent from 2010 and topped 2009 by 3 percent to become Golf Channel’s most-watched year ever. Highlights include PGA TOUR viewership up 23 percent, Presidents Cup coverage from Australia providing the most-watched day and week in Golf Channel history, viewership for Golf Central up 47 percent; and in June, the premiere of Feherty became the network’s most-viewed season premiere ever. These milestones provided the network with great momentum heading into the 2012 golf season, which kicks off Friday with primetime coverage in Hawaii of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions from the picturesque Plantation Course in Kapalua, Maui.
Total-day viewership growth in 2011 was spiked by milestones across all Golf Channel programming categories – an achievement even more impressive considering Tiger Woods appeared in only 10 events on Golf Channel (and did not win until the last event of his year). Comparatively, in 2009 when the previous record was established, Woods played 17 events and won nine times. Furthermore, 2011 viewership was more than 15 percent better than audience levels in 2007 and 2008.
The January 28, 2011, Comcast merger with NBCUniversal, which provided Golf Channel with broad-based promotion across a vast network of various NBCU platforms, and the addition of more original shows – including the critically acclaimed Feherty and the network’s first-ever live morning show, Morning Drive – engaged viewers who watched the network more often than ever before.
“While we toast this banner year and are extremely grateful to our family of loyal viewers, we remain committed to continued growth and excited about the prospects for the future,” said Golf Channel President Mike McCarley. “This viewership record is a testament to the vitality of golf, strengthened partnerships with the game’s governing bodies and the power of NBCUniversal cross-promotion. Our aim is to give viewers more reasons to watch, and in 2011 they responded in record numbers. While we’re pleased by the unprecedented viewership, we’re even more excited about the future and know that the best is yet to come.”
Best Beginning to End: The year began and finished with record-setting quarters and Golf Channel was one of only four sports networks to show growth (up 14 percent) in the third quarter of the year.
Tournaments Set the Pace: Golf Channel televises more tournament golf than all other networks combined and 2011 was a banner year for all the major tours with ratings up year over year. Golf Channel also shone its brightest during golf’s biggest events:
· PGA TOUR FedExCup season up 23 percent.
· LPGA Tour up 30 percent.
· European Tour up 23 percent.
· Champions Tour up 16 percent and the most-watched season ever on Golf Channel.
· The Presidents Cup made the third week in November the highest-rated week in Golf Channel history and Friday, Nov. 18, the highest-rated day in Golf Channel history.
Golf Channel Had it Covered: When it came to covering the world of golf, Golf Channel led the way. Ratings for its signature news franchise, Golf Central, were up 47 percent over last year and the newest addition to its morning schedule, Morning Drive, was up 68 percent versus its comparable time slot in 2010. At golf’s biggest events, Golf Channel’s Live From news coverage was unmatched and included the following highlights:
· Most-watched PGA Championship Week ever on Golf Channel.
· Masters Week was the fourth most-watched week in Golf Channel history.
· U.S. Open Week achieved the highest weekend ratings from an East Coast U.S. Open.
Golf Channel Originals and Instruction Kept Viewers Engaged: Significant investments to provide viewers more than tournament action paid off. Golf Channel original series and specials – up 20 percent as a genre over 2010 – kept fans tuning in. Instructional programming followed suit and was up 25 percent. Highlights include:
· Feherty set record as most-viewed series premiere in Golf Channel history.
· Ratings for The Haney Project season three with Rush Limbaugh were up 36 percent from previous season.
· Pipe Dream joined The Haney Project to lift Tuesday nights more than 50 percent.
· Big Break Ireland started with the highest-rated premiere for any Big Break series since fall of 2009, and finished with the highest-rated season finale of all originals in 2011.
Golf Channel in 2011 averaged 90,000 viewers watching at any given moment during a 24-hour period.
-NBC Sports Group-