Masters TV ratings down more than 20% from last year

AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 14: The final leaderboard indicating the 2024 Champion after the final round of  Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 14, 2024 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Ben Jared/PGA TOUR via Getty Images)

Scottie Scheffler’s runaway victory at the Masters certainly didn’t help final-round ratings. (Ben Jared/PGA TOUR via Getty Images)

The Masters remains the highest-rated event in golf. But golf’s overall share of television viewers continues to shrink, and not even the Masters is immune from that decline.

Ratings for the full Masters week are now out, and 2024’s version ranks as the lowest since the COVID-impacted years of 2020 and 2021. There was a brief moment when four players shared the lead at the 2024 Masters, but Scottie Scheffler took care of business quickly enough and strolled to what qualifies as an “easy” Masters victory — a four-stroke triumph that wasn’t in doubt for most of the second nine.

Perhaps as a result, Sunday’s final round averaged 9.59 million viewers on CBS, according to Sports Media Watch, a 22.8% decline from last year’s 12.06 million. Scheffler’s win two years ago averaged 10.17 million viewers.

This past Sunday’s Masters had a peak viewership of 12.56 million viewers. This ranks as the least-watched Masters since 1993. But on the glass-half-full side, Sunday’s final round placed ahead of four of the most recent five World Series games, according to Sports Media Watch, and every Daytona 500 of the past seven years.

Scheffler’s win continued a trend of relatively drama-free Masters. At every Masters since Sergio Garcia’s playoff win in 2017, the eventual winner has held the outright lead on the final hole. And at every Masters since Patrick Reed’s one-shot victory in 2018, the eventual winner has held a two-stroke lead. There’s only so much fawning over the beauty of the course and the history of the Masters that viewers are willing to put up with if the second nine is a coronation, not a battle.

Scheffler, in particular, doesn’t seem to connect with fans, even though his excellence is obvious: He’s won his two green jackets by a combined seven strokes. Scheffler’s brilliance is currently unparalleled, his magnetism somewhat less so.

Golf’s ratings have declined sharply across all tournaments this season, and many observers had looked to the Masters as a validation of the idea that ratings have declined because many major personalities have left the PGA Tour for LIV Golf. But it’s also possible that the Masters’ decline reflects just how many fans are in the hell-with-all-of-them viewership bloc.

Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley spoke about the decline in TV ratings earlier in the week. While not pointing a finger directly at the LIV-PGA Tour split, he suggested that it could be a factor.

“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.”

And, perhaps, if there were some more competitive final Sundays, too.

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