2004 Masters: Dispite a dramatic finish, Masters TV ratings fell from previous year

The most exciting Masters since 1986 and one of the most dramatic finishes ever at Augusta National did not draw a large television audience, as ratings for Sunday’s final round were down 22 percent from last year. The Phil Mickelson-Ernie Els thriller – which ended with Mickelson sinking a birdie putt on No. 18 to claim his first major championship – attracted a rating of 7.3 and an audience share of 18, compared to an audience measured at 9.3 and 19 for the final round in 2003.

Each rating point represents 1.084 million households. Share is the percentage of all TVs on at the time that are tuned to a particular show.

According to Frank Costa, manager of sports research for CBS, the falloff from last year is attributable to the final round being played on Easter Sunday - the first time since 1998 that the championship coincided with the holiday. The smaller audience also was caused in part by the the start of the

telecast being moved up because of predicted bad weather. This year’s final round was moved up one hour, which meant that less of the telecast took place in the prime late afternoon and early evening hours immediately before the network’s longtime hit, “60 Minutes.”

Saturday’s telecast also was off from 2003, though only by 5 percent. This year’s third round drew a 5.9 rating and a 14 share, down from last year’s 6.2 / 14. This year’s ratings were the lowest since the final round in 1993, another Easter finish, when the audience measured 6.8 / 19.

Mickelson’s long-awaited first major drew an audience that was down 49 percent from the one that viewed Tiger Woods’ breakthrough victory in 1997. That remains the highest-rated Masters ever, with audience numbers of 14.1 / 31.

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