It’s tough to deny “The Tiger Effect.” ESPN’s telecast of the first round of the Masters Tournament on Thursday, with the return of Tiger Woods, earned a 2.2 overnight rating, the highest for the first round since 2015, the last year Woods competed in the event. The rating is up 40% over 2017 and 16% over 2016.
Thursday’s first-round in 2015 drew a 2.4 overnight rating, when most of Woods’ round was included in the telecast. Woods played earlier the day Thursday, while ESPN’s telecast of the second round today will include the majority of Woods’ round.
Thursday’s overnight rating was the fourth-highest Thursday since ESPN began airing the Masters in 2008, according to Nielsen. The coverage aired from 3 PM until 7:20 PM ET with the rating peaking at a 2.4 between 6:15-7 PM.
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 PM ET, while SportsCenter at the Masters will air from 10 AM until the live coverage begins with in-progress updates.
Woods ended his round Thursday with a score of 73, seven strokes behind leader Jordan Speith at 6-under.