Nielsen Sports data reveals the potential value away from the course of winning the iconic Masters Green Jacket, with delayed tournament also set to enjoy another bumper UK viewership

Nielsen Sports reveals winning The Masters can lead to substantial social media growth

Sergio Garcia’s social following grew by 76% and Patrick Reid DOUBLED his following in the space of the week of their respective 2017 and 2018 Masters wins

Their social followings grew during those weeks by more than double the rest of the top five COMBINED

Nielsen Fan Insights shows golf fans are comparatively affluent, consumer-minded and digitally savvy, presenting opportunities for sponsors

November scheduling creates favourable TV coverage times in the UK which golfers and sponsors will hope to capitalize on

As The Masters prepares to tee off its delayed 2020 edition, research from Nielsen Sports has revealed the substantial value winning the iconic Green Jacket can have for golfers away from the course, with the last three winners enjoying significantly greater growth in their social media followings across the week of the tournament than the rest of the top five.

In fact, excluding Tiger Woods’ 2019 comeback victory, the 2017 and 2018 winners increased their social media followings by more than double the rest of the top five golfers combined.

In winning the 2017 Masters, Sergio Garcia increased his social media following from 105,956 to 186,527 by the Tuesday following the tournament, a 76% growth. The rest of the top five achieved a combined 37% increase, with Thomas Pieters’ 13% growth Garcia’s closest challenger.

2018 was even more stark, with Patrick Reid’s assault on Augusta securing a 99% increase in his social media following, in addition to the coveted Green Jacket. The doubling of his following from 59,455 at the start of the week to 118,507 by the Tuesday following dwarfed the rest of the top five, who enjoyed a combined follower growth of 29%.

In 2019, Tiger Woods grew his following from 1,562,615 to 1,860,868 on his way to winning his first golf major in 11 years – an impressive 19% considering the high base he started from. His closest challenges off the course were Xander Schauffele and Francesco Molinari, who grew their followings by 11% and 10% respectively.

Golfers are well-placed to capitalise commercially from the increased social media profile winning a major tournament like The Masters leads to. According to Nielsen Fan Insights, there are nine million golf fans in the UK with the highest proportion of those (38%) aged between 25-34 and one in five (19%) falling into the 35-44 age bracket. More than half (58%) of UK golf fans fall into the ABC1 social grade, with almost a third (29%) falling into the attractive AB bracket, whilst 31% are in the highest two income groups.

As well as coming from an age and income bracket which is appealing to potential sponsors, UK golf fans are also highly engaged with the media platforms they market themselves on. 72% of UK golf fans watch sport on pay TV and 66% on streaming platforms such as Amazon Prime, Facebook and Twitch. UK golf fans were also found to be engaging in second screen behaviours whilst watching sport, such as using social media and apps (68% and 69%); betting on sport (54%); ordering food (61%); and playing games online (55%).

Whilst the sport is still watched predominantly by men, with 72% of UK golf fans found to be male (67% in the US), more women are tuning into televised golf events, with Nielsen Sports revealing US TV viewership figures showed an increase in the share of women aged 18-24 (+30.34%), 18-49 (+29.98%) and 35-49 (+32.35%) tuning into last year’s final round compared to the five year average from 2015-2019.

The scheduling of the tournament in November as opposed to its traditional April slot, due to the COVID-19 lockdown, may be favourable to UK viewers and, in turn, sponsors hoping to attract a UK audience. UK viewership numbers experienced a boost in 2019 after the fourth round teed off earlier than usual due to forecasted storms, ending a little after 8pm rather than the usual time of 12-1am the following morning. More than 1.3 million UK viewers tuned in to watch Tiger Woods secure the Green Jacket in the final round, a 77% uplift on the three-year average, with the tournament as a whole experiencing a 22% increase in UK viewership across the week.

The increase in viewership of the fourth round last year led to a 22% increase in QI Media Value per second of duration in the UK market compared to round four in 2018, meaning sponsorship valuation for day four was 22% higher for all brands visible on TV.

This year’s November scheduling means UK viewers will once again enjoy a primetime Sunday afternoon TV slot, with Sky Sports showing the final round from 3-8pm. Provided viewing figures remain consistent with last year’s tournament, the favourable UK TV viewing window provides the successful golfers with a unique opportunity to engage with fans in the UK, along with associated brands and sponsors hoping to capitalise on a captive UK audience.

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