Every sport has huge events that command attention from even the most passive bandwagon fans. Think: Super Bowl, U.S.-Canada Olympic hockey game, or even Thursday night's bout between the Bruins and the Penguins, where justice may or may not be served.
Tiger Woods' return to golf after his recent scandal and hiatus will be one of these highly anticipated sporting events that will plant people in front of the TV. Will he be able to stun the world once again, or will the cracks in his personal life and his absence from golf hamper his performance? There is no doubt that people will be plugged in to see.
No one can deny that Woods is golf. The highest ratings for the Masters and final round for any golf tournament were in 1997, when the 21-year-old took home his first green jacket. More than 14 percent of U.S. homes owning a television in the United States watched the budding superstar, according to The Associated Press.
"I don't think there is any other athlete in any other sport that is so impactful on ratings," Rick Gentile, a former executive producer for CBS Sports, told Bloomberg. "He changes the ratings just by his presence."
Last year, the final day of the tournament reached 14.3 million viewers and had an 8.3 rating, according to Nielsen Co. With the media frenzy that has ensued the past few months, these numbers should be blown out of the water. In a Business Week article, Sam Sussman of Starcom Worldwide, who buys ad spots for sporting programs, estimates that viewership for the last day of the Masters' could rise more than 60 percent if Woods makes it to the final round. Let's just hope he's been hitting the driving range between therapy sessions.
"My only prediction is when he comes back, it will be, other than the Obama inauguration, one of, if not the, biggest media spectacle in recent memory," said Sean McManus, president of CBS Sports, according to the AP. CBS is scheduled to air the final two rounds of the tournament.
This may be a bit of exaggerated or wishful thinking by the CBS executive, but you get the idea.
Companies such as AT&T Inc. have seen a boost from their advertisement dollars, with an increased value of 43 percent after Woods' decision to play in the tournament, according to a media analyst in a Business Week Report.
Once Tiger tees off, maybe everyone can forgive and forget — especially if he is the savior for golf, a sport that has seen a sharp decline in popularity. Tours and golfers have lost company sponsors and partners. Of course, the economy may be to blame for the lack of logos on hats and polo T-shirts, but the impact of Tiger's absence and decline of viewers cannot be denied. His return may revamp the fan base, sparking more endorsement deals among companies that want the heavy brand exposure.
Whether you are hoping to see Tiger crash and burn to complete his fall from grace or see him astound golf as its No. 1 player once again, we will watch golf on April 8 and 9. The icon donning red on the fairway and the slew of Buick commercials will affirm that all is right in the world. At least the golf world.
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