Don’t ever forget what Brandel Chamblee once said: Tiger Woods doesn’t move the needle; he is the needle. And the PGA Tour’s TV ratings for Tiger Woods’ comeback win at the 2018 Tour Championship proved the sporting public and culture at large is still captivated by the now 80-time PGA Tour winner.
The 2018 Tour Championship was the highest-rated PGA Tour telecast of the year and the highest-rated FedEx Cup playoff telecast of all-time, dating back to the concept’s creation in 2007. NBC Sports reports a total audience delivery of 7.8 million viewers, counting in an average of 7.2 million on TV and 600,000 streaming viewers. The combined TV and streaming audience for this year’s Tour Championship was 212 percent higher (more than triple) last year’s audience for the same tournament, in which Xander Schauffele won the title and Justin Thomas won the FedEx Cup.
The 2018 Tour Championship is the third highest-rated tournament of the year, and it’s the highest rated outside of the majors.
As Woods closed in on his 80th PGA Tour win and third in the Tour Championship from 5:45-6 p.m. Eastern, an average of 10.8 million people watched NBC in some capacity. That was only behind the peak of the Masters (16.8 million) and the PGA Championship (12.4 million) as the most-watched 15-minute blocks of pro golf this year.
Woods has been responsible for most of golf’s ratings records in broadcast TV history, and the public was genuinely curious to see the culmination of a five-year drought and a comeback from four back surgeries, including spinal fusion surgery in April 2017. He is now two wins away from tying Sam Snead’s all-time PGA Tour wins mark.
Now, imagine what the ratings might be like if Woods were in position to win the 2019 Masters late on Sunday. Right now, he’s the betting favorite to win a 15th major title — an unthinkable notion this time last year.