That roar you heard recently didn’t just come from a Tiger-bedazzled gallery in Georgia. It also stemmed from TV-executive boardrooms. Tiger Woods’ historic win at the Masters was an unprecedented television event. CBS’ final round, telecast April 13, was watched at some point by an estimated 44 million viewers. (By comparison, the return of ER, last week’s No. 1 prime-time show, was seen by 34.4 million people.) That figure is astonishing for two reasons: because the tournament was a blowout, and because, well, it’s golf. ”For one day at least, golf became a different sport,” says Rob Correa, CBS’ sports VP. ”It was the Tiger Woods Show, and people that have never watched the sport before were tuning in.”
The chance that Woods may be able to transform golf from an old man’s pastime into the next great spectator sport has industry watchers salivating. ”Until this past weekend, golf was for golfers. Now it’s a TV event,” says media analyst Paul Schulman. ”And like Michael Jordan and basketball, ratings will go up because everyone wants a chance to look at a phenom.” Guess we’ll be seeing Spike Lee sitting greenside soon.