Golf Is Dead? Golf Channel Viewership Indicates Otherwise

Viewership on Golf Channel shows a promising trend

There are a lot of metrics that can be used to measure anything. When it comes to sports, when we look at participation, one place we always need to peer first is anything that reflects interest. If people show curiosity about an activity they are usually just a step or two away from taking part.

That’s why the latest viewership numbers from Golf Channel are very encouraging for those affiliated with the golf business.

In a time when the game is being beat on by shallow generalizations that portray it as all but dead, the ratings summaries from January for the only golf-specific channel in the world are fortifying.

In fact, the early year numbers show a level of viewership that has not been seen on Golf Channel since the same month in 2013. The network has reported that they had some 116,000 viewers per minute in January, up some 23% from last January and 10% greater than a previous monthly high in January, 2013. This data was compiled and released by The Nielsen Company.

And it appears it is not an anomaly, but a trend, as December also brought record viewership for the channel. A further indicator is that viewership was also up 34% for minutes streamed and 19% for web page views. I can add that our own views were up almost 60% in 2017.

It’s hopeful for the business of golf in general and, of course, for Golf Channel management.

“Golf is carrying a lot of momentum into 2018 with a deep roster of developing stars across the professional tours, a superstar making his return to competitive golf and a rapid evolution in the many ways golfers are participating in and consuming the game,” said Mike McCarley, president, Golf, NBC Sports. “It’s especially promising to see record viewership — and it’s only January.”

Further proof that people in the 80 countries that Golf Channel now serves there is an appetite for golf?

Check out this nugget from Golf Channel:

Sunday, January 28 was Golf Channel’s most-watched Sunday on record. During the PGA TOUR’s Farmers Insurance Open playoff between Jason Day and Alex Noren from 7:15 to 8:30 p.m. ET on Sunday – airing opposite The Grammy Awards – Golf Channel was the No. 1 Nielsen-measured cable network for Total Viewers, up 24% vs. second place (ESPN). The playoff was also Golf Channel’s most-watched PGA TOUR telecast ever.

Is that not enough?

  • LPGA Tour’s Pure Silk Bahamas Classic Round One became the tour’s most-watched Opening Day in 9 years.
  • PGA TOUR Champions saw 2nd best Opening Day in 5 years at Mitsubishi Electric Championship.
  • Tour’s Round One from the Bahamas Abaco Classic was the tour’s most-watched telecast since July 2016.

So what does it all mean? Is golf alive and well? These ratings alone don’t decide that. What it does show is that there is a level of attraction to watching the best players in the game, and related golf content. It presents but an opportunity.

What it should do is let golf operators know that there is audience ready and waiting. They just have to bridge that gap and provide attractive services that will pull those viewers away from their TV screens and mobile devices and convert them into actively playing the sport in some way.

In any case, it is hope. And that has been in short supply for a few years.

So we’ll take it.