Say what you will about FOX Sports and their coverage of the 115th U.S. Open, but the ratings are in, and the numbers are good.
Here are the highlights from FOX’s press release:
The final round featured a crowded leaderboard with a number of players narrowly off the pace and Sunday’s action posted a 4.2 household rating, averaging 6.7 million viewers on FOX broadcast network, a +46% increase over the U.S. Open’s final round in 2014 (4.6 million). The 4.2 rating versus 2014’s 3.0 marked the largest year-over-year gain for the final round since 1991-1992 (4.7/15 to 7.0/19).
Four-day coverage of the 115th U.S. Open Championship averaged a combined 3.5 million viewers each day across FOX and FOX Sports 1, a +40% increase over last year’s combined average on ESPN and NBC (2.5 million viewers). According to a custom analysis provided by Nielsen, the almost 40 hours of coverage of the 2015 U.S. Open reached a total of 34.9 million viewers.
Here are the most important figures:
Sunday’s final-round broadcast peaked with 11.2 million viewers from 10:00–10:30 PM ET as audiences watched Spieth birdie the 18th hole and runner-up Dustin Johnson finish in the final group with a disappointing three-putt to finish one shot back.
The primetime portion of Sunday’s telecast averaged a 5.3 rating and 8.7 million viewers from 7:00-10:46 PM ET, winning the night among the broadcast networks and giving FOX its most-watched Sunday night in primetime since Jan. 4 (NFC Wild Card Playoffs).
What’s equally as compelling is how strong FOX’s digital streaming coverage performed:
Through FOX Sports GO, USOpen.com and the U.S. Open official app, total live streams started were up +354% (5.9 million vs. 1.3 million) over 2014. Additionally, total streamed minutes reached 158 million, eclipsing the U.S. Open’s previous high of 130 million minutes in 2012.
Enough numbers. How about a chart? Sportsmediawatch.com put together this graph looking at viewership for the first two rounds over the last five U.S. Opens:
So what’s the bottom line here? Well, ratings were solid, and much better than last year. But remember, Martin Kaymer’s 2014 win was a snoozefest as far as the ratings were concerned, so there was nowhere to go but up. While ratings were very solid on the East Coast, they were poor on the West Coast, where the Open actually took place (four-day coverage averaged a combined 3.5 million viewers in the prime time hours).
Past west coast overnights:
6/21/1992 – 6.8
6/21/1998 – 6.7
6/18/2000 – 8.8
6/15/2008 – 8.5
6/20/2010 – 6.9
6/17/2012 – 6.6
The most exciting part of the numbers might be the digital stats. Sunday’s final round was the second most-watched event ever on FOX Sports Go.
FOX Sports certainly did not hit it out of the park with their coverage of the U.S. Open. But keep in mind – it was their first crack at it. They will get better. And these ratings bode well for the future.