Tiger Woods’ impressive comeback victory on Sunday at the Masters golf tournament was surely a gift for CBS Sports.
Despite his lack of major wins in recent years, Woods’ remains the biggest draw in golf when it comes to TV ratings. CBS Sports chief Sean McManus said the combination of his underdog status and the closeness of the match right up until the last hole should translate to Nielsen gold for the Eye when the overnights roll in on Monday.
“When you’re in this business, you live for moments and events like this. They’re few and far between,” McManus told Variety in a telephone interview from Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga. He praised the work of the CBS Sports production team on the ground and in the booth for complementing the compelling work on the course by Woods and other players.
CBS Sports carefully drawn plan for covering the event was shuffled early Sunday when the final day of the tournament began hours earlier than planned — at about 9 a.m. ET rather than 2 p.m. ET as planned — because of the threat of a rain storm on the horizon.
“With something that is so historic in nature, when your team steps up in the way we did today, it’s a feeling of pride and exhilaration and satisfaction,” McManus said. “It’s a great day for Augusta National, a great day for golf and a great day for CBS Sports.”
McManus noted that the presence of Woods near the top of the leaderboard is typically worth a triple-digit boost to ratings. “He really has an effect unlike any other player,” McManus said. Already, CBS’ coverage of Saturday’s third-round was up 5% from the comparable day last year. Woods’ win makes him second only to the legendary Jack Nicklaus in total Masters’ wins, with five to Nicklaus’ six. Woods’ most recently took home to a green jacket from Augusta in 2005.
McManus said he was particularly pleased that in the moment when Woods’ sealed his win, and minutes later when Woods embraced his children on the sidelines, the CBS Sports in-studio team led by Jim Nantz let the pictures do the talking.
“I give our announcers a lot of credit for letting those scenes play out with no commentary,” McManus said.