Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Let's Talk LPGA TV Coverage

It seems to be a hot topic at the LPGA-specific blogs that I read - (Hound Dog here and Mostly Harmless here), so let's talk about it.

First, let's frame the discussion with some numbers. Here are some LPGA Tour numbers from the past three years:

Show mentions that the LPGA average rating in 2007 was 0.87, down from 1.13 in 2006 and 0.97 in 2005.
That may sound like a drop in the bucket, but is it really? Consider the TV ratings for the Tiger-less Wachovia Championship.
Just look at the whiplash at the Wachovia, CBS averaged a 1.6 overnight rating for the Saturday and Sunday shows, a drop of 48% from last year.
That number is about run of the mill for PGA Tour events without Tiger Woods. In effect, the LPGA Tour does approximately half ratings of the PGA Tour when Tiger doesn't play. (It does approximately 25% of PGA Tour ratings with Tiger in the field, based off of some loose research of TV ratings numbers.)

That's not that bad when put into the proper perspective. The problem is that the LPGA Tour is often compared to PGA Tour ratings. Doing only half or 25% of the PGA Tour number can be viewed as the LPGA Tour struggling to find a fan base. Is that true though?

The LPGA Tour, after all, is a niche sport. Golf, in general, is a niche sport. Perhaps that is the reason for the comparison to the PGA Tour side. But, the LPGA rating appears fairly consistent regardless of who is in the field. The main determenent of ratings for the PGA Tour is the presence of one player. So which is healthier - the one that is consistently modest, or the one that is erratic with the potential to burst? Tough to say.

Really, though, the LPGA Tour's ratings look a lot better when compared with two other sports that are out of the "big four" in American sports - baseball, football, basketball, and NASCAR racing. Two sports in particular come to mind: hockey (the NHL) and the Arena Football League. They are apt comparisons because both have ties to regional sports networks and a national cable partner. For the NHL, that partner is Versus - owned by Comcast, but does not reach all of cable households. The AFL is owned in part by ESPN and they have a national broadcast contract with their family of networks.

First, discussing the NHL, consider this press release in Mediaweek that touts a 33% increase in playoff viewership on Versus:
Through 26 games on 14 nights, household ratings are up 33 percent to a 0.4 vs. a 0.3, according to Nielsen Media Research data, while total viewers are up 24 percent to 349,792 vs. 281,466. Male 18-34 viewers are up 72 percent to 107,957 from 62,882, while men 18-49 viewers are up 65 percent to 190,710 from 115,810.

The playoff viewer gains follow a regular season in which the network averaged a 0.3 household rating for 58 telecasts, up 50 percent, and averaged 272,417 viewers per telecast, up 28 percent.
The LPGA Tour regularly beats games on Versus in terms of total viewers. The LPGA Tour also has the disadvantage of not having a consistent cable partner or time slot for its events. The LPGA Tour is broadcast on the ESPN family, the Golf Channel, and three of the four major broadcast networks.

How about the comparison to NHL's ratings on NBC during their Game of the Week? Let's consult TV Week:
NBC’s ratings rose 11% for the season to a 1.0 score, with a 33% jump in men 18-49.
And that caused NBC to extend the arrangement for another season. (The NHL has a revenue sharing agreement of some kind with NBC, so that may help also.) The LPGA rating of 0.87 combined against the combined NHL rating of 0.94 leaves the LPGA with a solid case in its efforts to attract a television deal starting in 2010.

Jon Show highlights those efforts in this Sports Business Journal piece. The piece does seem to show some industry skepticism about the goal because of the LPGA Tour's difficulty in maintaining consistent corporate sponsorship. Still, the LPGA Tour has ruled out selling an equity stake in the Tour to a broadcast network - like what the AFL allowed ESPN to do.

Speaking of the AFL, it averaged a dismal 0.2 rating on ESPN through July 2007. It is tough not to view the LPGA Tour in a most positive light when comparing ratings between these two leagues that have cable partners.

The question, then, is not really whether the LPGA Tour deserves to garner more consistent TV times, a cable partner, and eliminate the need for TV buys just to get on the air. The question is how it gets done.

The Golf Channel seems like an obvious candidate, but it is not very viable. The 15 year deal with the PGA Tour will always take precedence over the LPGA Tour in terms of favorable TV times and the attention that it receives on Golf Channel supplemental programming (Golf Central, The Turn, The Approach, etc.).

I would shy away from Versus because it suffers from two problems: (1) It, like the Golf Channel, is owned by Comcast. Why not go for the Golf Channel then? (2) Not many people watch Versus for anything in particular. Without much of a ratings base to tap into, it seems unlikely that the LPGA Tour would build on its popularity on a network that few people actually get on their cable service and even fewer people watch.

ESPN may turn out to be a viable option. They do not broadcast any golf with the exception of the selected USGA events and the Open Championship on ABC. Still, their coverage of the LPGA Tour this year has shown attention to detail and a new approach to bringing information to the viewer. Would a network that is disinterested in forming a long-term arrangement with the LPGA Tour do that? Doesn't seem likely.

Whatever route the LPGA Tour chooses, it will have to start modestly. That is why the LPGA Tour's effort to create its own production company could be huge in this deal. The LPGA could be setting up resources to be able to broadcast its events on, in addition to whichever network is broadcasting events. Given the massive success of video streams from both and, would be likely to see a high level of success on a global scale if it became the supplemental home for LPGA video coverage.

With what has been presented, it seems evident that the LPGA Tour is doing pretty well compared to the competition and has some options to improve its television situation.


The Constructivist said...

Nice point about ESPN--from all I've read, and the highlight clips I've seen from Hound Dog, they seem to be outdoing the Golf Channel this season--plus ESPN Deportes has done a great job with the first 2 Mexican events (from the clips I've seen online, that is). Having that affiliation with ABC wouldn't hurt the LPGA, either.

Anonymous said...

You may probably be very interested to know how one can manage to receive high yields on investments.
There is no initial capital needed.
You may commense to get income with a sum that usually goes
on daily food, that's 20-100 dollars.
I have been participating in one project for several years,
and I'll be glad to let you know my secrets at my blog.

Please visit blog and send me private message to get the info.

P.S. I earn 1000-2000 per daily now. [url=]Online Investment Blog[/url]

Anonymous said...

nzdating [url=]dating websites[/url] amarillo texas personals dating quizzes

Anonymous said...

split penis [url=]kamasutra intensity condoms[/url] marinated turkey breast home remedies yeast infections
lakehead district health unit [url=]prazosin[/url] short broken heart poems [url=]fujitsu medical mo disk drive[/url]

Anonymous said...

health action seminars [url=]glyset[/url] tea kettle grapevine itch busts help health
mental health agencies in norther nj [url=]rhinocort[/url] nys chils health plus carriers [url=]what is the difference between the two types of diabetes[/url]

Anonymous said...

penn state travel online travel guide australia
[url=]grand discovery travel[/url] fj cruiser long travel kit [url=]how do i pick a cruise[/url]
travel advisory to kenya
[url=]travel trailers oklahoma city[/url] last minute travel package for singles [url=]all exclusive cruises[/url]
adults only adventure travel park avenue travel [url=]micro flight crack[/url]

Anonymous said...

automobile student driver set up with dual controls how to repair a burned headliner in an automobile
[url=]rebuilt auto engines florida[/url] blue book vaule of 1999 volkswagen golf [url=]alfa romeo milano[/url]
volkswagen golf wiring diagram stereo
[url=]hong kong auto body repair tools[/url] volkswagen passat tdi se review [url=]rolls royce 1560 test box[/url]
california state automobile association claims fresno
[url=]semi auto 20 gauge shotgun[/url] replacing a volkswagen beetle headrest [url=]alfa romeo montreal transam pictures[/url]

Anonymous said...

dsl travel dubai travel tips
[url=]riu travel agent discounts[/url] san jose travel information [url=]shilo inn pomona ca[/url]
wall travel car usb charger hp ipaq hw6925
[url=]travel blog amsterdam[/url] tour and travel for teenage to singapore [url=]bowling green motel[/url]
travel to rise of kunark los cabo discount weekend travel [url=]airline ticket compare[/url]

Anonymous said...

interior designers and realtors partnering up the computer wore tennis shoes [url=]american girl discount doll clothes[/url] klein bottle dc shoes [url=]softball clothes[/url]

Anonymous said...

sexy columbian teen boys
[url=]book formatting for a young adult book[/url] synthetic lubricant families [url=]doa hitomi hentai[/url]
tehama county ca active adult communities
[url=]chlamydia anal sex[/url] top anal cancer specialists massachusetts [url=]increadibles hentai[/url]
young adult rooms
[url=]virgin again[/url] dildo dodo mission [url=]caught my wife masturbating hidden camera[/url]
free naruto hentai x
[url=]met art babe innocent alisia a sexy nude pics free[/url] naruto hentai manga translations free [url=]busy moms cleaning calendar[/url]

Anonymous said...

mobile news ron anthony mobile alabama [url=]windows mobile obdii[/url] just mobile direct inc

Anonymous said...

act smart xact travel transmitter used travel trailers and fifth wheels for sale in
[url=]travel tips for flying with toddlers[/url] canadian medical travel insurance [url=]russia travel hotels international plane tickets[/url]
discount travel companies canada
[url=]travel tips for flying with toddlers[/url] scenic travel highway 89 between long valley jct and sevier ut [url=]pacific beach hotel san diego[/url]
travel mechanic in tulsa cheap travel airline [url=]map of river nile[/url]

Anonymous said...

preventing shoes squeaking no shoes no shirt no problem live [url=]latest fashion[/url] pdesigner photomerge chanel eyeglass frames [url=]crochet cabbage patch clothes[/url]

Anonymous said...

newborn hair loss on top of head [url=]anti diabetique[/url] physicians health choice
bacteria enzymes drain [url=]colchicine[/url] arterial stenosis heart [url= ]monostat drug [/url] healthy blood levels
common type two diabetes drugs [url=]chloramphenicol[/url] how much blood do we have in our body
pot smoking singles in denver [url=]diclofenac gel[/url] blood plus colors of the heart [url= ]hawaii medical school [/url] what year did jarvik invent the artificial heart

Anonymous said...
[url=]the corner drugstore[/url] small bussiness health insurance [url=]pfizer and the government[/url]
drugs taken to prevent suicide
[url=]new york learning standards for health education[/url] levitra review blog [url=]size of us pharma industry[/url]
hair sample for drug test
[url=]antiepileptic drug[/url] topical creams for erectile dysfunction [url=]permethrin dog ingestion[/url] troy brown drug case [url=]zithromax indications[/url]

Anonymous said...

richard gear new movie [url=]the bone snatcher[/url] movie theaters portland maine movie theaters in camp hill pa
sbs the movie show [url=]thief of hearts[/url] movie critics choice free download of porn movie
lord of the rings movie pictures [url=]mama s boy[/url] penelope movie 1966
harry potter order of the phoenix movie [url=]elizabeth[/url] showtimes for movie theater writing a dvd with movie rating
snoop dog movie air [url=]my own private idaho[/url] movie machine dead like me movie news