Masters Ratings Prove Tiger Woods Is Still The Sport’s Ultimate Brand

    After a tumultuous 10 months that included his fourth back surgery in four years and an arrest after being found asleep in his car on the side of the road, Tiger Woods rose from his golf grave in 2018 to remind those who may have forgotten and those haters who chose to ignore the fact, that he is still the undisputed marketing maven and a Top 3 all-time brand in the history of American sports. 

    According to Business Insider, “at his peak in the late 2000s, Woods made $100 million annually off the course. In 2016, he earned more than $45 million in endorsement deals and course-design fees.”

    I can go one step further with my adulation and call him the most captivating athlete, of any race or ethnicity in the past 25 years.The coverage he received at this past weekend’s 2018 Masters clearly shows Im not alone in my captivation with Tiger. 

    His return to the Masters’ stage for the first time in three years boosted golfs global profile and returned us to a time when a Tiger Woods PGA event dominated weekend ratings. The tournament was a glaring example of Tiger Woods lasting and incomparable presence. The 42-year-old comeback kid finished tied for 32nd overall but remained a resounding No. 1 in the hearts of golf fans of all ethnicities. 

    Masters Highlights on Twitter

    Masters 2018: Tiger Woods | 12th Hole, Round 3 https://t.co/OIuQ1RegXI

    Some golf heads want to credit young stars Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy with helping the ratings, but we know thats straight hogwash. They were both Top 10 finishers in last years Masters and werent captivating viewers and doing ratings numbers like the 2018 Masters, which was no more than the Tiger Show despite his 103 World Ranking and the fact that he hasn’t won a Major chip in over a decade. 

    Bleacher Report on Twitter

    Tiger Woods (+4) shoots 2nd-round 75 to make the cut in his first Masters since 2015

    Just one day into the event, Awful Announcing reported that ESPN’s 2.2 overnight rating for the first round of The Masters was up 40 percent from 2017 and 16 percent from 2016. Thursday was the highest rated opening round since the last time Tiger competed in 2015 and the fourth highest opening round since 2008. 

    For its first two days of Masters coverage, before Woods chances of winning were all but eliminated,  ESPN said it averaged 3.6 million viewers, up 46 percent from 2017 and its highest two-day average since 2013. 

    Tiger still got the Juice. His Ric Flair Drip is serious. What kingpin maintains that kind of star power? 

    Despite Woods pedestrian effort, he still shot a 3-under 69 on Sunday and kept eyes on Augusta National. Clearly, the reported ratings success of the later rounds was driven by his presence in some way as well. 

    Steve DiMeglio on Twitter

    With @TigerWoods in broadcast window, ESPN’s second round of the Masters earned a 2.9 overnight rating, an increase of 55% over Friday 2017 and up 27% over 2016 Friday. The rating was ESPN’s best on Friday since a 3.3 in 2013, when Tiger was playing.

    Masters final-round viewership on CBS jumped 18 percent from last year. Last year’s 7.6 rating for the final round of the Masters that saw Sergio Garcia finally break through with an elusive championship, was an 11% decline compared to 2016. Those superior 2016 ratings can be attributed to the lingering impact of Woods who had played there the previous year.

    Woods single-handedly changed the culture of golf and took a sport that was unattainable to most African-Americans and made it a mainstream attraction for the avid, casual and uninterested golf viewer. That’s why he still prominently rocks the Nike Swoosh after all he’s been through. 

    Fast Company on Twitter

    This new Nike ad welcomes the Tiger Woods comeback to #TheMasters https://t.co/bYgotDVRyd https://t.co/Xx7L8yRgT8

    Very rarely does one man transcend his sport the way Woods has. His journey was once seen as an iconic and mythical explosion of perfection. He was a Black superhero. Then as his demons surfaced and his life went into a whirlwind of drama and personal strife, his weaknesses and flaws were exposed to the world. His fans were disappointed because he smashed their fairy tale perception of him, but it also made him more real to people.  

    Tiger Woods Masters 2018 Comeback

    Uploaded by Brendan Rogers on 2018-03-27.

    Tigers comeback is one that would make his Pops proud and returns him to living legend status. He’s someone who’s no longer seen as superhuman but more like a Greek God with the complex task of trying to master a gift that wields great power over the world while dealing with the same emotional stresses and moral challenges as mortal men. 

    He eventually regained a peaceful place and got back into his competitive zone and despite his slightly diminished skills golf has become an ambassador for the sport and greeted with the same reverence of a king returning home. 

    The sports world’s ultimate brand is back. Tiger’s return to golf has boosted ratings in every tournament he has participated in. Ratings for December’s Hero World Challenge rose by 27 percent. The Valspar Championship resulted in even better results, as the event received the highest rating for any PGA broadcast at a non-major since 2013. The following week, Woods’ participation in the Arnold Palmer Invitational and boosted ratings 136 percent.

    The Shadow League on Twitter

    Tiger Woods is the biggest draw in sports again: https://t.co/AuPxHhgmZw

    The golf world — including the young gunners who are trying to own the undisputed crown as Tiger did for so long — is hoping Woods revived magnetism continues at the U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship. The over-the-top media coverage his mere presence evokes does nothing but elevate the rising superstars of the game to a next level and let them shine on a stage hell own until the day he puts down his golden clubs.  

    JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The General Manager of Content & Social Media is in his 25th year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, newspapers, magazines and national TV. His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.