ESPN’s first-round coverage of the Masters on Thursday plummeted by nearly 40% from last year’s coverage of the event.
The main difference? This is the first time since 1994 that Tiger Woods has not been in the Masters, as he is recovering from back surgery.
Last year, ESPN got a 2.4 rating on Thursday in 2013. This year, the network only managed a 1.5 rating.
Woods did not tee off in the afternoon last year on Thursday and was not in the middle of the round when ESPN started its coverage at 3 PM EST.
But when Woods did tee off in the afternoon on Friday of last year, ESPN got a 3.5 rating. So in comparison to that, the 1.5 rating represents a 58% drop off from the last time Woods had an afternoon tee time at the Masters during the first two days.
To state the obvious, golf needs Tiger, and he draws viewers to events and the TV screen — regardless of whether you like him or his game.