UPDATED: Using data from iSpotTV along with internal CW and LIV results, CW says LIV’s opening weekend at Camaleón Mayakoba Golf Course in Mexico averaged more than 3.2 million total viewers across all linear and digital platforms from February 24-26.
Day one of the tourney streamed on the CW app. Days two and three aired on affiliates, as well as indie stations and digits.
“This was a great start for LIV Golf and a great debut for CW Sports,” said Dennis Miller, President of The CW Network. “We are really encouraged by the dramatic viewership increases we saw across our affiliates. The performance of LIV Golf is very competitive with other longstanding sports leagues, and we are confident that the audience for the league will continue growing throughout the season, as The CW delivers high quality sports programming to our broadcasting and advertising partners for the first time.”
PREVIOUSLY: LIV’s opening weekend on the CW (along with some random indie stations and diginets) was about as appealing as taking a snowman on a par 4: the inaugural live broadcast averaged 289,000 viewers and a 0.18 household rating on Saturday and Sunday, according to reports.
Thetourney at Camaleón Mayakoba Golf Course in Mexico pulled its best numbers in Los Angeles on KTLA (more than 40,000 viewers on Saturday and 31,000 on Sunday) and Chicago’s WGN (12,000 and 18,300), according to reports obtained by Deadline. Out of the top 10 markets, LIV Golf had its worst showing in Philadelphia (5,900 and 3,500) and Washington D.C. (2,100 and 3,400).
In the golf mecca of Florida, LIV averaged just under 15,000 viewers for the weekend in Orlando.
Results were only available in the Nielsen metered markets. A spokesman said the CW will be sharing a comprehensive cross-platform report (including Friday’s round that was only available online and the CW app) by the end of this week.
While chatting with reporters about fourth-quarter earnings on February 28, Nexstar CEO Perry Sook put a positive spin on the golf weekend.
“Certainly, sports is one avenue that that has never been pursued there (at The CW) before. I can tell you that we’re very pleased with our first weekend of LIV Golf. Across the first three days from Mayakoba Mexico, LIV Golf was viewed by over 1.4 million total viewers across both the CW linear network as well as our digital platform. The CW app compared to the average linear golf game on television year to date, LIV Golf today average linear viewership was 24% higher than the average and important for us, the linear broadcast ratings increased 21% from Saturday to Sunday. Those numbers exceeded our expectations and, and most importantly, the affiliates as well as our own stations. We’re thrilled.”
“know that our affiliates and CW affiliates in the top 10 markets generated about three times the amount of money that the network generated for this first outing and so it’s selling very well, and I think will continue to grow as we get more into the season and more involved,” he continued. “So, I think that (with the addition of) sports (and) adding another hour on Sunday night to the primetime schedule are all things you can expect in the future. Again, we want to make the CW on par with the big four. Our job now is to continue to increase the profile relevance and interest in the programming. Sports is obviously a big piece of that that can put us more on par with the other network choices that are out there.”
As Deadline reported, eight of the CBS-owned CW affiliates declined to air LIV. So did the Weigel-owned CW affiliate WCIU in Chicago, and Tegna-owned CW stations like KFMB in San Diego and WCCT in Hartford-New Haven, CT. In markets like Chicago, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Tampa and Hartford — where CBS and Weigel have those CW affiliates — other local stations and/or diginets will air LIV instead. And in at least one case, an NBC affiliate in Detroit has agreed to carry LIV on its diginet (Cozi 4). “At the end of the day, a local station in every major market will be carrying LIV golf,” one insider told Deadline.
Sook told Wall Street analysts on Tuesday that Nexstar’s acquisition of the CW has already paid for itself in terms of adding muscle to the company’s distribution negotiations.
“It was all part of the thinking,” Sook said of the decision to take over the CW. The network “was undervalued for any number of reasons,” including the “company priorities and agendas” of its prior owners. Given that Nexstar operates the largest portfolio of local TV stations in the country, “when we are negotiating with the Big 4 station groups, there is leverage inherent in that model.” As it continues to put its stamp on programming on the CW, mainly via more non-scripted fare, news and sports, “we’re hoping to create more value in the hopes of extracting more value,” the CEO said.