ESPN Announce Record Viewing Figures Following Tiger's Return

Thanks to Tiger Woods' return, ESPN saw a 21% increase in viewing figures on Thursday and 31% on Friday

Woods hits an iron shot at 12
(Image credit: Getty Images)

There aren't many that will argue that Tiger Woods is the needle mover in golf. Before he had even arrived at Augusta National, the 15-time Major winner's jet had been spotted on radar (opens in new tab), sending Twitter into an absolute frenzy!

That buzz soon reached peak level when, on the Tuesday of the week of the event, Tiger announced his return to competitive action, 14 months after his serious car crash. What followed? Well, a large increase of viewership, with ESPN reporting a 21% increase in ratings for Thursday’s opening round, and a 31% percent rise for Friday’s second round coverage.

Those couple of days were also the most-watched days of golf ever on ESPN+, with more than five million viewers tuning into watching the coverage of the opening two days at The Masters (opens in new tab), an increase of more than 1.2 million viewers in 2021.

Patrons watch Woods

Patrons watch the group of Tiger and Jon Rahm on Sunday at The Masters

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The large increase shows that the 'Tiger effect' is in full force, with the 46-year-old still moving the needle in golf's viewership and ratings. This was also the case at the PNC Championship where, appearing alongside his son, Charlie, NBC announced that their tournament average viewing figures (opens in new tab) for the event where around 2.3 million. For context, the 2021 Open Championship averaged 2.1 million viewers!

As well as Tiger's appearance, it is also worth noting the effort that ESPN has put in to its Masters coverage, with the network devoting a huge number of hours to the 86th edition of the event.

For now, it is unclear as to what the ratings will be over the weekend. However, on Sunday, Tiger will be paired with Jon Rahm, a former World No.1 and Major winner, who, when playing at tournaments, is always one to watch. Consequently, it is likely that those ratings will increase further. This is despite Tiger producing his worst ever round at The Masters (opens in new tab) on Saturday, with a six-over-par round of 78 putting him down the leaderboard. 

Matt Cradock
Matt Cradock

Matt studied Sports Journalism at Southampton Solent University, graduating in 2019. Now a freelance writer for Golf Monthly and the PGA, he covers all aspects of the game, from Tour news to equipment testing and buyers’ guides. Taking up the game at the age of six, Matt currently holds a handicap of 3 and despite not having a hole in one…yet, he has had two albatrosses. His favourite player is Rory McIlroy, despite nearly being struck by his second shot at the 17th during the 2015 BMW PGA Championship.