Tuesday, April 15, 2003

34.5 million tune in to Masters, third-most ever

By The Associated Press

NEW YORK - Even with Tiger Woods out of contention, the final round of the Masters had the third-most viewers in its history.

About 34.5 million people watched at least some of Sunday's telecast on CBS Sports, which aired without commercials because of the flap over Augusta National's all-male membership.

The tournament drew larger audiences only in 1997 (43 million) and 2001 (40.1 million); Woods won both years. He tied for 15th Sunday, as Mike Weir became the first Canadian and the first left-hander to win the tournament.

The total audience number was boosted by a longer broadcast because of a playoff between Weir and Len Mattiace. Plus, only starting last year was CBS allowed to show all 18 holes Sunday.

The overnight rating Sunday was 9.3, about 6 percent lower than last year. The average overnight rating for Saturday and Sunday was 8.0, a drop of 9 percent from 2002.

Sunday's audience peaked with a 12.4 rating from 7-7:15 p.m. EDT, during the one-hole playoff. That means 12.4 percent of the country's TV homes tuned in.

Overnight ratings measure the 55 largest TV markets, covering about 70 percent of the United States.

In June, Martha Burk, head of the National Council of Women's Organizations, sent Augusta National chairman Hootie Johnson a letter urging him to add women to the club's membership.

To avoid pressure on the tournament's TV sponsors, Johnson dropped the corporations in August, creating an ad-free telecast.

CBS made no mention of the issue during its shows over the weekend. The network has had a series of one-year deals since 1956 to televise the Masters, the highest-rated golf tournament.

In Canada, Global TV's broadcast Sunday drew nearly 50 percent more viewers than the final round of the 2002 Masters did.

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Today's Games

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34.5 million tune in to Masters, third-most ever
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Tuesday's sports on TV, radio