The Masters TV Ratings Prove That LIV And PGA Tour Need To Come Back Together

After a sluggish start to the year on the PGA Tour, the Masters delivered a much-needed boost for TV ratings

The Masters: Tiger Woods of the United States plays his shot from the 18th tee during the second round of the 2024 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The first round of the Masters delivered a timely boost for TV ratings as the effects of men's professional golf's ongoing division were laid bare once again. 

It's no great secret that the PGA Tour has endured a sluggish start to the year when it comes to viewership numbers. Even Scottie Scheffler's dramatic win at the Players Championship in March drew 700,000 less than the year prior, while many other events have seen a drop of between 10-20% in viewers compared with 2023.

Increasing fatigue over the ongoing negotiations between the PGA Tour and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), a deal that could bring LIV and PGA Tour players back together, has been seen as a major factor for the year-on-year declines.

And the potential of having all the best players back together again was there for all to see on Thursday at Augusta National after ESPN reported their best Thursday Masters viewership figures in nine years.

The first round telecast averaged 3.2 million viewers, a 28 per cent jump up from 2.5 million during the rain-shortened first round of 2023. The network also reported an audience peak of 3.8m viewers at around 6.15pm ET.

The figures will have also been aided no end by the encouraging displays of Tiger Woods who battled through a gruelling Friday to make his record-breaking 24th consecutive cut at the Masters.

The 15-time Major champion sits seven shots back of the lead - shared by Bryson DeCheambeau, Scottie Scheffler and Max Homa - heading into the weekend in what is only his second tournament of the year. 

Speaking earlier in the week, Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley suggested that the uninspiring viewership numbers to start the year had one obvious cause.

"Certainly the fact that the best players in the world are not convening very often is not helpful," Ridley said. "Whether or not there's a direct causal effect, I don't know. But I think that it would be a lot better if they were together more often."

Tiger Woods hitting a bunker shot at The Masters 2024

(Image credit: Getty Images)

However, with no clear end in sight for a deal between the Tour and the PIF, it appears likely that the Majors will remain the only four tournaments of the year with all the best players. 

Last month, Tour commissioner Jay Monahan insisted he remains committed to a deal with the PIF but said “several key issues” surrounding a potential deal remain unresolved.

“As I’ve said on a number of occasions, you can’t negotiate a deal like this in public,” he said, speaking at a press conference ahead of the 2024 Players Championship. 

“Our negotiations are accelerating and we still have several key issues to work through but we have a shared vision to quiet the noise and unlock golf’s worldwide potential.

“It’s going to take time but I reiterate what I said at the Tour Championship in August. I see a positive outcome for the PGA Tour and the sport as a whole. Most importantly, I see a positive outcome for our great fans.”

Ben Fleming

Ben joined Golf Monthly having completed his NCTJ in multimedia sports journalism at News Associates, London. He is now a freelance journalist who also works for The Independent, Metro, UEFA and Stats Perform.