Golf rocks tennis’ TV audience in US

By: June 13, 2011

I was surprised to read in the latest edition of The Economist (June 11th 2011) that in US people prefer to watch golf over tennis. I started to check worldwide ranking of US tennis players where I had to realize that there is no US tennis player in the TOP5 in the ATP ranking (men). Although Rafael Nadal, Wiliams sisters and Roger Federer are playing very well it will not attract sufficent size of audience in the US. It is no brainer to say no advertiser will consider to sponsor such tournament where his brand cannot get sufficient exposure.

But why golf is getting bigger viewership in televisions? Why beneficial to sponsor a golf tournament in the US? Especially when we know golf is more expensive to broadcast than other sports (networks need an army of cameras covering an immense outdoor space) If we check from taxation point of view then it is easier to understand the situation (I still have not found on the right answer). Since Deane Beman (headed PGA Tour between 1974 and 1994) corporates can account for golf tournaments as charities. I cannot believe that the US Tax Authority can be fooled so easily. Such PGA Tour event sponsorship is arround 7-8 million USD, but at the end the exposure will worth up to 55 million USD. Thus the cost of 1 GRP is even cheaper (+ add quantity, agency and other special discounts that advertisers get)

Advantage Golf

Still why Americans prefer to watch golf? I have couple of answers:

  1. More successful American players: Tiger Wood, Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson, Jim Furyk etc.
  2. Winning Ryder Cups
  3. Our society is still chasing such nobel values of honesty, integrity, respect, confidence, responsibility, courtesy, preseverance etc what golf is standing for. Well, some of these values have not seen in the last to years from Tiger Woods, but these values that we really esteem.

The current business environment is/was not in favour of PGA Tour's business model thus total direct revenues fell from 486 million USD to 461 million USD between 2008 and 2010.