Scottie Scheffler Arrest Helps Boost PGA Championship TV Numbers Despite NBA Playoff Competition

The World No.1's arrest on Friday and a stellar finish at Valhalla helped CBS record a notable bump in TV viewing figures compared to 2023

Split image of Xander Schauffele lifting the Wanamaker Trophy (left) and Scottie Scheffler at the 2024 PGA Championship
(Image credit: Getty Images)

CBS reported a 10% viewership increase for the final round of the 2024 PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club, compared to Brooks Koepka's victory at Oak Hill 12 months earlier.

The American broadcaster averaged just shy of five million viewers (4.958m) on Sunday as Xander Schauffele birdied his 72nd hole of the week to beat Bryson DeChambeau by a shot and lift a first Major title. In 2023, 4.517m people tuned in for Koepka's second PGA Championship victory.

Last Sunday's coverage on CBS peaked at 8.4 million around the winning moment, with 7.8 million people watching on from home during the final hour of action at Valhalla.

What made CBS' own win even more impressive was that it had significant and direct competition during the late window on Sunday in the Pacers v Knicks Eastern Conference semi-final game 7, shown on ABC.

The NBA clash - in which the Pacers triumphed 130-109 - drew 6.4 million viewers between 3:30pm and 6:11pm ET and was the second-most-watched NBA Playoff game so far this season.

Comparing 2024's Sunday average at the PGA Championship on CBS with its four predecessors, it was only marginally down from 2022 when Justin Thomas won in a playoff (5.273m) and 2020 when Collin Morikawa beat Paul Casey and Dustin Johnson by two during the Covid pandemic (5.150m).

Phil Mickelson's record-breaking success in 2021 was the outlier over recent years, though, with 6.583 million tuning in across the final day at Kiawah Island's Ocean Course.

And during a year where TV viewing figures have largely been down across the board in America, ESPN reported an incredible 18% boost to its year-on-year Friday numbers.

That was overwhelmingly down to Scottie Scheffler's early-morning arrest in relation to a 'big misunderstanding' regarding traffic instructions. Scheffler was detained and later charged four times, although only one was a felony while the other three were misdemeanours. News crews ran moment-by-moment updates on Scheffler's situation right up until the World No.1's Friday tee time. He would go on to shoot a five-under 66 despite the circumstances.

Scottie Scheffler takes his hat off as he walks off the green

(Image credit: Getty Images)

ESPN averaged 1.6 million viewers - up from 1.369m in 2023 - during its live broadcast of the second round, which ran from noon until 8pm ET, peaking at 2 million in the 15 minutes after 6pm.

There were also a couple of other small wins for ESPN on Friday, with its ESPN BET at the PGA Championship telecast on ESPN2 between 11am and 1pm averaging 323,000 viewers - up from 164,000 the day before. Meanwhile, the PGA Championship with No Laying Up alternative immediately after averaged 155,000, up from 89,000 on Thursday.

With the PGA Tour-LIV fatigue greatly affecting men's pro golf viewing figures in 2024, the PGA Championship at Valhalla will have been a welcome relief for all those concerned.

Jonny Leighfield
Staff Writer

Jonny Leighfield is our Staff News Writer who joined Golf Monthly just in time for the 2023 Solheim Cup and Ryder Cup. He graduated from the University of Brighton with a degree in Sport Journalism in 2017 and spent almost five years as the sole sports reporter at his local newspaper. An improving golfer who still classes himself as ‘one of the worst players on the Golf Monthly team’, Jonny enjoys playing as much as he can and is hoping to reach his Handicap goal of 18 at some stage. He attended both the 150th and 151st Opens and is keen to make it an annual pilgrimage.