Tuesday Thoughts

In the podcast I linked to and discussed yesterday, Chris Solomon (the main NLU [No Laying Up] guy) made a remark about how, early in the year, he had used Anirban Lahiri to bash the European Tour as weak and awarding too many OWGR points, which hurts PGA Tour players.  Regular readers will recognize that as jalnichol’s EuroTour Seven bashing meme.

I suppose I should research when NLU started bashing Lahiri, and to what extent, but that’s not really critical to my reason for bring this up.  Here’s a comment Solomon made in the podcast:

[This is a cleaned up transcript.  Someone pointed out yesterday that the word “like” was used a lot.  I had not even noticed.  However, when transcribing this morning, I saw what the commenter was talking about!  That said, I honestly prefer the casual vibe.  It shows they are talking about what springs to mind, not something from a production meeting, not something based on findings from a focus group.  They are discussing things I think about myself — and that never happens on Golf Channel.]

I admitted it on Twitter, I’ll admit it live on the podcast. I made Lahiri the poster boy for my early season rants against the Official World Golf Rankings. He got in the Master basically, I thought, the route that I hate, by winning — he did win in Malaysia, a bigger event — but he won like the Hero Indian Open and got a lot of world golf ranking points for that — more than Henrik Stenson got for finishing T-4 at the Valspar or something like that.

Lahiri just became this official world ranking points joke to me. He’s backed up his… If you are going to finish top five in a major, I gotta back off. So I’ve officially suspended my Anirban Lahiri jokes. He’s a legit player, I’ll say it, and we’ll just move on from this topic forever.

Courtesy of a Commenter:

Wk/event Wkly. ave. viewers per minute
4/20 (Zurich) 56,000
4/27 (WGC Match Play) 59,000
5/4 (Players Ch.) 68,000
5/11 (Wells Fargo) 46,000
5/18 (Colonial) 43,000
5/25 (B. Nelson) 62,000
6/1 (Memorial) 49,000
6/6 (St. Jude) 65,000
6/15 (US Open) 138,000
6/22 (Hartford) 81,000
6/29 (Greenbriar) 58,000
7/6 (John Deere) 54,000
7/13 (Open Ch.) 68,000
7/21 (Canadian Open) 74,000
7/27 (Quicken Loans) 73,000
8/3 (Firestone) 62,000
8/10 (PGA Ch.) 82,000
8/17 (Wyndham) 96,000
To compare…Golf Central…which begins in evening Prime 
Time (6pm), averages around 77,000 viewers per 
minute…slightly stronger in audience share than 
Morning Drive. The week of the Wyndham rating for 
Morning Drive (96,000) was the second highest of 
the year ranking only behind the US Open week…pretty 
astounding for a second tier, weak field, PGA Tour 
event. The number for Golf Central during Wyndham 
week was 115,000. In general, the numbers for Morning 
Drive are pretty weak except when there is a large 
event being played (or Tiger Woods is in the field).

I find this rather interesting for a lot of reasons.  You can look at these numbers and come up with a lot of narratives.  In fact, we’ve been doing that in yesterday’s comment section.

But let me suggest something worth looking at…

These are weekly numbers.  That means Monday’s numbers, perhaps Tuesday’s, will reflect the people who tuned in to get a recap of the previous week’s event.  The Wyndham came the week after Jason Day got his incredibly popular victory at the U.S. Open at Whistling Straits.

Now, look at this, from a followup comment:

Some numbers that surprised me: pretty weak during 
the Memorial…unusually strong for the Hartford 
week…but the Wyndham number to me is astounding.

Now, realizing that the event prior to the Hartford was the U.S. Open won by Jordan Spieth when Dustin Johnson three-putted on the 72nd hole, are those numbers really so surprising?

One of the themes of this website is that people will take some numbers/outcome/circumstances and build a narrative around them that makes them feel good.  They are able to say “Tiger made golf prize money go up, and all other players should thank him” fully believing that is true, and obviously so.  They found a narrative they love, and they stopped thinking.  So, when you point out that ALL sports money went up, they simply are not going to listen.  Facts?  We don’t need your stinking facts!

I’m not comparing these numbers to the prize money mythology.  (For one thing, Woods does have an effect on television ratings.  There are some people who truly do “only watch when Tiger plays.”  Whether those people are important to the game of golf is a conversation for another day.)  However, the analysis of these Morning Drive ratings numbers seemed to have begun and ended with a Tigercentric analysis.  In other words, nothing else mattered.  Only Tiger.

However, it doesn’t take too much additional analysis to realize the previous week’s event has a major bearing on the numbers.  [Where are the numbers for the rest of the year?  I was curious about the week after the Valspar and noticed it’s not there.]

Consider that the Tiger-less (and weakish) Canadian Open outdrew the Tiger Woods-hosted Quicken Loans.  You could say, “Oh, well, that proves that Canadian golf draws more viewers than Tiger Woods.”  Or, you could say, “Yeah, because it came the week after the crazy British Open, where Jordan Spieth missed out on the third leg of the Grand Slam by a single stroke.”  (Or, especially, that the finish of the Brit Open was on Monday.)

Also, too, Morning Drive is shifted around on the schedule every week.  Sometimes, it’s very early, sometimes later.  That has a significant effect.

It’s important to consider all the facts, and not just grab the first narrative that suits your personal preference.

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16 Responses to Tuesday Thoughts

  1. JoseyWales says:

    Lanny…I have no dog in this fight…just the numbers. The Morning Drive number for the week of the Wyndham was larger than the number for Masters week. Would you agree that’s astounding?

    3/2 (Doral) 89,000
    3/9 (Tampa/Valspar) 62,000
    3/16 (Bay Hill) 57,000
    3/23 (Valero Texas) 43,000
    3/30 (Shell/Houston) 45,000
    4/6 (Masters) 95,000
    4/13 (Harbour Town) 75,000
    8/17 (Wyndham) 96,000

    • lannyh says:

      No. For the reason I explained. These weekly numbers are as dependent on the tournament played the week before as they are for that week’s event.

      In addition to that, their viewers are told, directly and indirectly, that today’s players are shite, and that Only Tiger Matters. Remember some of them insisting that, even ten years from now, Woods would be the story. So, the other players are swimming upstream out of the chute. The Golf Channel could be stressing how Jordan won two majors at age 21, whereas Woods got his second just before turning 23. But they don’t: they always look for stats where Jordan did something “almost as young as Woods.”

      How about Jason Day’s 20-under record for majors? Think if Woods had done that, it would be mentioned every five minutes?

      But, more than anything, those numbers are affected by the preceding week’s numbers.

      Also, too, how do you explain the Canadian Open outdrawing the Quicken Loans?

      And, then, one last thing… You have not ONCE mentioned Davis Love III becoming the third oldest player to win a Tour event as a big draw!! You’ve totally given the credit to Woods! It did not even cross your mind that DLIII might be a draw.

    • lannyh says:

      By the way, I’m not pigeonholing you, I’m just responding to your reading of those numbers.

  2. Bird says:

    I seldom watch Morning Drive, and when I do, it’s only for a few minutes.Those morning hours are difficult for many people–getting ready for school, work, whatever. And on the left coast, people are asleep for a good portion of the show. Has something gone awry with the ratings gathering? Seems so to me.

    • JoseyWales says:

      Nielsen numbers are shaky at best…but it’s pretty much what we are stuck with…and there is more online streaming now, which further clouds the ratings picture.

  3. JoseyWales says:

    here is a sample of Golf Central numbers…typically a larger audience than Morning Drive because they start at the beginning of Prime time (6pm est)…

    5/25 (B. Nelson) 84,000
    6/1 (Memorial) 92,000
    6/8 (St. Jude) 49,000
    6/22 (Hartford) 94,000
    6/29 (Greenbriar) 76,000
    7/27 (Quicken Loans) 58,000
    8/3 (Firestone) 76,000
    8/17 (Wyndham) 115,000

  4. JoseyWales says:

    “I guess I don’t understand what your crusade is about.”
    There is no crusade Lanny…I just posted numbers for the interest and discussion for your website.

  5. JoseyWales says:

    BTW…just heard that Feherty is out at CBS.

    • RealGolfFan says:

      WTH…..How’d that happen?

      • Bird says:

        I heard it before the US Open that Feherty’s contracts at CBS and Golf Channel would not be renewed. Feherty made no secret of it, no doubt seeking new opportunities. FOX is a likely landing for him. Remember that kind Feherty show he did with Greg Norman, trying to sell the Shark’s Colorado property.

    • lannyh says:

      Really? Seems like maybe I heard his contract was up for renewal. Is he headed to Fox?

      • RealGolfFan says:

        One of the few times I decided to go do some digging myself. Sounds like the contract was up and the two sides couldn’t agree on a renewal/role arrangement. With his show on NBC’s Golf Channel, one could see him move into some sort of broadcasting position with NBC.

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