Tiger Woods news is not going away anytime soon. Here's your daily helping:
In Golf Digest, Dan Jenkins declared Woods "graveyard dead." Apparently it's not too early to consider the possibility that Jenkins is right.
In BusinessWeek, Rick Horrow and Karla Swatek ask the big question with the headline: Is the Tiger Woods Era Over? Tiger's fall from grace and golf's declining numbers were behind the question.
Unfortunately, the article never gets anywhere near an answer, mainly relying on Nielsen figures regarding Tiger's apology speech (2.07 million viewers on Fox News, 1.7 million on ESPN); a study by HCD Research that said 64 percent of viewers found Tiger's apology sufficient and 60 percent thought it was sincere; and the old news that several behind-the-scenes Tiger books fueled by mistress revelations will hit bookstores within a few months.
BW also noted that Tiger's ranking in the Davie Brown Index, which rates celebrities on appeal, endorsement and trust, dropped from the top 10 to No. 121. The mag noted that Nielsen ratings for the PGA Tour's three West Coast swing events--Bob Hope, Torrey Pines, Northern Trust Open--were up 29 percent from a year ago and ran a quote from Commissioner Tim Finchem claiming there are no negative implications in the short term due to Tiger's absence. If he said it, BW figures, it must be true.
Finallly, BW notes that the National Golf Foundation reports that the number of Americans playing at least one round of golf has dropped to 10.2 percent of the population, down from 12.1 percent in 1990. What does that have to do with the end of the Tiger Woods era? Like most of this article, which lacked any golf savvy whatsoever, very little.
Frazier Moore of Canadian Press reports that network TV execs think televised golf will be fine with or without Tiger.
"We're all looking forward to him coming back, but until then we're doing perfectly fine," said Sean McManus, president of CBS News and SportsGuess who's picking up the tab for TigerJam I--The Apology? Garry Smits reports in the Florida Times-Union that it'll be Team Tiger, not the PGA Tour or local taxpayers, footing the bill for 30 off-duty sheriff's deputies and the room rental at the TPC Sawgrass.
Tournaments in which Woods isn't playing generally suffer a drop in viewership and a loss of advertising revenue, notes Larry Novenstern, executive
vice-president of Optimedia.
For the 15 or so tournaments where Woods might have been expected to play this year, Novenstern estimated the resulting advertising loss to networks would total between US$10 million and $20 million. In comparison to other economic hardships challenging broadcasters right now, he says, "This is just a speed
CBS' McManus agrees. "Golf does better economically when Tiger is a major force on the PGA tour," he says, "but golf is still a valuable product for us."
There's no question Woods delivers a ratings kick for any tournament he plays in, ranging from 20
per cent to as much as 50 per cent.
"But a certain per cent of Tiger's audience is not the traditional golf audience and, in effect, is not what many advertisers are looking for," says Neal Pilson, president of Pilson Communications, a media consulting firm, and a former president of CBS Sports. "If Tiger's in an event, you expect a 50 per cent increase in ratings. You don't necessarily negotiate a 50 per cent increase in the advertising rate.
"There's a strong, economically secure core audience for golf, and there is no indication that they have left," Pilson says. "The more casual audience that follows Tiger probably won't be back
until he comes back again."
The deputies were paid $33 per hour for overtime, and the Times-Union says there is a $5,000 minimum for renting the Sunset Room in the clubhouse, where Tiger's mea culpa took place.
Meanwhile, AOL Fanhouse's David Whitley earns the Hard Hat of the Day Award by taking the PGA Tour to task. He says the tour should suspend Woods but is too scared to do so. Some amusing highlights from Whitley:
Tiger Woods dodged a few hundred embarrassing questions last week. His enablers at the PGA Tour can't answer just one. Why isn't Woods suspended?...Elsewhere, the apologizing continues. A letter from Tiger and his wife, Elin, was sent to parents of the pre-school their 2-year-old attends thanking the parents for their support and apologizing (again) for any inconvenience the increased media attention caused. The letter, obtained by WFTV.com in Orlando, added:
And please, spare me the addiction excuse. That didn't work for Daly, and he had an addiction that's actually recognized by the American Psychiatric Association. Tiger's is recognized by 16-year-old boys who don't have parental blocks on their computer...
"We truly understand how frustrating it can be. We hope that the paparazzi will find something better to do with their time in the near future."