The viewing statistics for the Masters support Rory McIlroy’s claim that LIV Golf will have a significant impact.

April 18, 2024

Rory McIlroy attributed the 20% decrease in ratings for this year’s Masters Tournament to tensions between PGA Tour and LIV Golf causing a decline in viewership.

The sport’s ongoing bickering between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf drew criticism from Rory McIlroy, resulting in a 20 percent decline in official viewership numbers for this year’s Masters.

The initial round of viewing statistics in the United States exhibited a noteworthy spike. The broadcast on ESPN, averaging 3.2 million viewers, showed an increase by 26% compared to last year and recorded the most significant audience for a first-round since 2015. The two-day average total reached at around 3.4 million viewers- marking its best record since the year ending of ’18’.

The conclusion of the tournament witnessed a significant decline in audience turnout, falling by 20 percent compared to the prior year. CBS reported an average viewership figure of 9.589 million – marking it as the least-watched Masters since Hideki Matsuyama’s triumph in 2021 and stands out quite remarkably from the soaring opening round figures. This result makes for one of The Master’s lowest ratings over a period spanning more than three decades, surpassing only those affected during Covid-era years (i.e., between) throughout viewer numbers alone;2020 and its ensuing successor-21’’.

Despite being a steadfast PGA Tour advocate, McIlroy had expressed his disapproval of LIV Golf for more than twelve months. Nevertheless, he recently acknowledged in an interview that the dip in viewership could have been partly caused by disagreements and public clashes between both entities.

According to McIlroy, the TV ratings for the PGA Tour have decreased by 20% overall this year. This equates to one-fifth of their previous viewership and is a significant drop in numbers. Additionally, Mcilory notes that there are also concerns with low viewership on LIV.

Given the ongoing conflicts and struggles in recent years, I believe individuals have grown weary. Such weariness has resulted in a decline of interest towards men’s professional golf–a concerning situation for all involved parties.

Observing how the four major championships fare, or perhaps just three of them excluding Augusta – which stands apart in its unique world – promises to be highly intriguing.

Before the Masters, McIlroy expressed his grave concerns about how the ongoing conflict between LIV and the PGA Tour is not only causing a decline in golf viewership but also dampening enthusiasm for significant tournaments. This issue becomes more critical when considering that LIV golfers cannot accumulate Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR) points – an essential aspect of receiving major invites and Olympic participation opportunities.

Of notable interest to McIlroy were the figures pertaining to Scottie Scheffler’s second win at the Masters, who has not registered a round above par since August 26th – specifically during Round Three of the Tour Championship.

After over a year of criticizing the league, McIlroy made an abrupt turn towards LIV. Rumors started circulating about him signing an $850 million (£623m) deal with the team, but his manager Sean O’Flaherty has refuted these claims.

Having judged players who joined, McIlroy expressed regret for his initial approach towards LIV. The first to embrace LIV were Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Sergio Garcia. As an early adopter of the platform, reports suggest that Mickelson received a whopping $200m (£160.9m) just for participating in it.