Thursday December 7, 2023

Masters Least-Watched In Almost 30 Years

  • Viewership for Sunday's final round was up 70% vs. last November's delayed Masters.
  • It drew the smallest Sunday TV audience for a spring Masters in nearly 30 years.
Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports/Design: Alex Brooks
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With few stars on the leaderboard, Sunday’s final round of the Masters was the least-watched in nearly 30 years.

Hideki Matsuyama’s one-stroke win averaged around 9.5 million viewers on CBS Sports. 

It was the least-watched final round for a spring Masters since German star Bernhard Langer’s second win in 1993. Still, the audience was up 70% from 2020’s final round, which was moved to November due to the pandemic. 

Matsuyama made history as the first male Japanese golfer to capture a major, but this year’s coverage was missing three key factors that drive ratings:

  • No familiar names: Matsuyama’s green jacket is sure to spark a frenzy in golf-loving Japan, but he was previously unknown to casual viewers. Defending Masters champion Dustin Johnson didn’t make it to the weekend. Other big names missing the cut included: Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia, and Brooks Koepka. Plus, five-time Masters champ Tiger Woods didn’t play because of injuries sustained in a car accident.
  • No drama: Masters ratings soar when the lead changes hands or stars face off in a sudden-death playoff. Sunday had little drama. Matsuyama teed off with a 4-shot lead, then made the turn into the back nine with a 5-shot lead. Even though he came back to the pack at the end, the win never seemed in doubt. 
  • Few roars: Unlike November, Augusta National Golf Club admitted patrons, but a crowd estimated at 20% of capacity sounded more like 10%, according to Golf Digest

The tournament fell flat for viewers — in person and on TV. As Mike Greenberg noted on ESPN’s “Get Up,” Sunday’s finale was more of a “coronation than a competition.”

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