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Big ratings tumble for British Open

July 20, 2010

Major averages a 2.6 overnight household rating

By Toni Fitzgerald
Jul 20, 2010

The final round of the British Open earned its lowest-ever rating Sunday, but that’s not much of a surprise.

Ratings were expected to plummet after the year’s third PGA major moved from broadcast to cable, going from ABC to ESPN, which is available in 10 million fewer households than its Disney sister network.

Of course it didn’t help that the runaway winner of the tournament was Louis Oosthuizen, a virtual unknown who’d failed to make the cut in seven of his previous eight majors.

ESPN averaged a 2.6 Nielsen overnight household rating, off 33 percent from last year, when the Open averaged a final-day 3.9 rating.

It was also well down from the previous low of 3.5, which was set on multiple occasions, most recently two years ago.

Last year’s Open had the draw of 59-year-old Tom Watson improbably competing for the title. He eventually lost in a playoff with Stewart Cink.

But this year there was really no question of who was going to win; it was simply a matter of how many strokes he would win by. The answer was a dominating seven.

Meanwhile, ratings magnet Tiger Woods, still looking for his first victory since returning to the tour following a long layoff, was never really in contention, posting his worst-ever 72-hole finish at a major.

Woods made headlines in the final round only because he uttered a string of nasty curse words on the 13th hole, prompting a video of his swearing to go viral online and rack up more than 80,000 views on YouTube in less than 24 hours.
Toni Fitzgerald is a staff writer for Media Life.
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