From the Rough

Golf without discretion

Overnight television ratings paint a grim picture of Tour Championship, FedEx Cup’s future

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Not even spin doctor … I mean, commissioner Tim Finchem could save the FedEx Cup and the Tour Championship this time around. After Sunday’s final round ended to a smattering of applause and a less-than-stellar crowd, the tour waited for the overnight television results, something many expected would be down with Tiger Woods no longer in the chase for the FedEx Cup.

But not even Finchem could have imagined the numbers would be this bad. As the San Diego Union-Tribune noted, there was a slight drop-off from this year to last: “The 1.3 overnight Nielsen rating for NBC’s Sunday coverage of Jim Furyk’s victory was down 61 percent from Sunday’s final round last year (3.3 rating), when Mickelson outdueled Woods to win the tournament and Woods seized the FedEx Cup.”

While it’s impossible to compare a Mickelson-Woods duel to any previous event, a 61 percent decline doesn’t paint a rosy picture for the future of the tour’s biggest event. As I mentioned my recent article for Yahoo!’s blog Devil Ball, the tape delay was the first of many mistakes that led to the putrid overnight rating.

That rating, while just a number, could hurt the tour’s when it goes to negotiate television contracts with the major networks next year. With the event gaining very little notoriety at this point, I’d be shocked if the event kept the same purse going forward.

Even the players believe the money could go down in the future. As Paul Casey said earlier last week, it wouldn’t shock him to see a smaller purse in the future, especially with the tour fighting so many battles at the moment.

“I would be absolutely very accepting if that number went down,” Casey said. “I’d be fine with that. You know, we have to — I would completely understand and I would be surprised if it didn’t. Certainly if we retain the same number of events we’ve got for these sorts of purses, I mean, to me I just don’t see how we can sustain that right now, how the sponsors are out there.”

While I wouldn’t expect to see the tour nix the FedEx Cup idea in the near future, you’ve got to believe there’s someone at HQ trying to talk some sense into Finchem. At this point, they’re just blowing money on an event that’s turned into a laughingstock.

Numbers don’t lie. No matter how you try and spin the 61 percent decline, it’s obvious the tour has a serious problem on its hands.

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Written by Jonathan Wall

09/28/2010 at 4:40 pm

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