TV Ratings, Ticket Sales Surge as Fans Clamor to See Woods End 5-Year Drought

Woods

On Sunday evening, Tiger Woods ended a 5-year winless streak (’13 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational) with a two-stroke victory, finishing -11 under to take home the TOUR Championship (the final leg of the FedExCup Playoffs). NBC television ratings surged (Sunday’s final round was the highest-rated telecast in FedExCup history) as Tiger chased his 80th PGA Tour win; 2 victories behind the all-time leader Sam Snead. TOUR Championship ticket sales also received the Tiger bump (+170% YoY) last weekend, as fans scrambled to the East Lake Golf Club (Atlanta) to witness “the greatest comeback story in sports history.”

Howie Long-Short: NBC posted a 5.21 overnight rating (meaning 5.21% of all households in metered markets) on Sunday (round peaked at 7.1), representing an audience increase of +206% YoY; NBC also reported the number of minutes streamed (18.4 million) rose +521% YoY. While that would be a big number for most sporting events, it’s peanuts compared to the 13.6 rating the NFL’s Sunday night game (NE at Detroit) drew. Saturday’s 3rd round performed better on a head to head basis, beating every college football game on the slate (with 3.1 overnight rating) except Texas A&M at Alabama (3.5 rating).

While Woods will move the needle for television and ticket sales, he simply doesn’t do the same for golf equipment sales. Back in June ’17, Phil Knight said that despite Woods’ enormous success and popularity, Nike “lost money for 20 years on equipment and balls.” If he didn’t move equipment (apparel is a different story) for NKE in his prime – or at least enough to offset R&D costs -, he’s not going to for TaylorMade either (his current equipment provider).

Woods won the Tour Championship playing with Bridgestone Golf’s TOUR B XS ball. He averaged 304 yards off the tee, finishing 3rd in driving accuracy and 1st in putting average. Bridgestone Golf falls under the Bridgestone Corporation umbrella, best known for their rubber & tire business (world’s largest tire maker). Bridgestone Corp. recently reported operating income for H1 ’18 declined -1.4% (to $1.8 billion) despite net sales remaining flat (to $15.6 billion), a minimal growth from the company’s tire division was more than offset by a -40% YoY decline (to $78.8 million) in OI from its Diversified Products division. The Japan based company trades over the counter under the symbol BRDCY.

Fan Marino: Tiger Woods will lead team U.S.A (against Europe) in their quest to retain the Ryder Cup. The 42nd edition of the annual event will take place at Le Golf National (outside Paris), Friday-Sunday.

The greatest comeback story in sports history? Give me a break. Sure, Tiger managed to come all the way back from cheating on his wife to beat 29 other golfers in non-major (insert eye roll here), but as Ted Berg kindly reminded us, Mario Lemieux was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease in the middle of the ’92-‘93 NHL season. Following 2 months of radiation, he returned to the ice (on the same day as his last treatment) and still finished with 12 points (160) ahead of 2nd place (Pat Lafontaine). I don’t know, that sounds like the better story.

Fun Fact: With the win, Woods has now cleared more than $1 billion in career earnings.

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TIGER WOODS HELPING BRIDGESTONE GOLF GENERATE RECORD SALES

Bridgestone (OTC: BRDCY) Golf CEO Angel Ilagan recently stated that Tiger Woods is more valuable as an endorser than he is as a player, arguing he’s “the single golfer who’s had the greatest impact bringing consumers into the game”. Ilagan argues that golf enthusiasts are familiar with Tiger’s reputation as a “sports science junky”, who only plays with very best equipment; while noting the game has seen an increase of 4 million players since Woods last participated (back surgeries, DUI) in a tournament (Feb ’16). The company signed Woods to an endorsement deal in December ’16, and generated record sales growth in H1 ’17.

Howie Long-Short: Bridgestone Golf falls under the Bridgestone Corporation umbrella, best known for their rubber & tire business. Bridgestone Corp. recently reported operating income for H1 ’17 was down 7.3% (to $1.8 billion), despite sales rising 5.8% (to $15.5 billion); attributing the earnings decline to rising raw material costs. As for Bridgestone Golf, it posted the 2 most successful quarters in company history and its single highest grossing month in company history, within the first 6 months of 2017. The Japan based company trades over the counter under the symbol BRDCY.

Fan Marino: Woods remains most valuable as an endorser, when he’s playing. Paid advertising has been driving awareness of the Woods/Bridgestone partnership, but nothing can replicate the exposure and impact seeing the Bridgestone “B” on a ball that Tiger is lining up to putt on 18, on Sunday.

Tiger Woods is more valuable as an endorser than a player: Bridgestone Golf CEO