ESPN Earns Best Overnight Rating for Masters First Round Since 2015
ESPN telecast of the first round of the Masters Tournament on Thursday, April 5, earned a 2.2 overnight rating, the highest for the first round since 2015. The rating was up 40 percent over 2017 and 16 percent over 2016.
It was the highest Thursday rating since a 2.4 overnight in 2015, the last year Tiger Woods competed in the event and when most of his round was included in the telecast. Woods is back this year and played earlier in the day Thursday while ESPN's telecast of the second round on Friday will include the majority of Woods' round.
Thursday's overnight rating was the fourth-highest Thursday since ESPN began airing the Masters in 2008. The coverage aired from 3 p.m. until 7:20 p.m. ET with the rating peaking at a 2.4 between 6:15-7 p.m.
Louisville led all metered markets with a 4.8 rating, followed by Greenville, S.C., at 4.7, and Dayton, Ohio, and Fort Myers, Fla., at 4.2. Tampa-St. Petersburg and Orlando earned a 3.7.
ESPN will air Friday's second round beginning at 3 p.m. ET, while SportsCenter at the Masters will air from 10 a.m. until the live coverage begins with in-progress updates.
Masters First Round Viewership on ESPN Up 40 Percent From 2017
Nearly three million viewers tuned in for ESPN's telecast of the first round of the Masters Tournament on Thursday, an increase of 40 percent over the Thursday audience of last year, according to Nielsen Fast National data.
The telecast, which aired from 3 p.m. - 7:20 p.m. ET, averaged 2,971,287 viewers, up 40 percent from the 2,129,214 Thursday average in 2017 and up 24 percent from the 2016 Thursday average of 2,397,624.
The telecast ranked as the fourth-best Thursday since ESPN began airing the Masters Tournament in 2008, exceeded only by the years in which Tiger Woods was featured in Thursday coverage (2009, 2010 and 2015). Most of Woods' round on Thursday had already been completed when ESPN's telecast began.
The telecast also saw growth across all key demographics, with a 44 percent increase in persons 25-54.
Digitally, ESPN saw significant growth across app and website usage compared to the opening Thursday of the tournament last year. The men's golf section of the ESPN App saw a 111 percent increase in total minutes over 2017 (27,198,202 million vs. 12,889,566 million in 2017) with a 42 percent increase in visits (5,181,829 vs. 3,636,525 in 2017).
On ESPN.com, the golf section had a 41 percent increase in visits over last year (3,310,158 million vs. 2,353,247 million in 2017).
Also on Thursday, SportsCenter at the Masters, which included more coverage from the Masters than ever before, saw a 67 percent increase in overnight ratings from noon to 3 p.m. over 2017 (0.5 vs. 0.3 in 2017).
While ESPN's live Masters coverage ends Friday, SportsCenter and ESPN.com will continue to report from the Masters throughout the weekend.