Golf ratings rise while others stumble | Buckler’s Airtime

There was a lot of red ink when it came to the ratings for sports events this weekend. Ratings declines were the rule, rather than the exception.The women’s finals of the U.S. Olympic Gymnastic Trials, for example, drew their lowest ratings since 2000.NASCAR staged two races this weekend and both suffered ratings declines. Sunday’s race from Pocono suffered an 8 percent drop from 2020 while Saturday’s NASCAR race was the least-watched Cup race since 2000. NASCAR was leaking oil all over the ratings chart.

There was one exception — PGA golf was protected by the Travelers’ umbrella. The final round of the Travelers Championship from Cromwell averaged 3.97 million viewers — the largest audience for the event in 19 years.The ratings were up 30 percent from 2020’s final round, which was affected by COVID-19. In order to get a better indication of how well the tournament did, you have to go to the 2019 ratings and this year’s tournament did even better. The audience was up 83 percent from that year.The CBS telecast extended into prime time, which helped out ratings. The intense 8-hole playoff, however, between Harris English and Kramer Hickok, was TV golf at its best. Once viewers tuned into the action, they stayed. The final quarter-hour brought in 6.6 million viewers. It’s been a long time since the Travelers clicked off numbers like that.More people tuned into the gymnastics trials and the NBA playoffs. PGA golf, however, put on a prime-time show and was rewarded with its best Sunday TV crowd since 2002.When a tree toppled onto a house in Enfield Tuesday during Tuesday’s severe weather event, WVIT-TV30 was there to pick up the pieces.Reporter Matt Austin was in Enfield to cover the story, which led the 11 p.m. newscast.Included in Austin’s report was vivid video that showed the tree laying across the house. The two people who lived there were able to escape, thanks to help from their neighbors.It wasn’t Austin’s only big story during the 11 p.m. newscast. He also reported that Hartford police officers have lost confidence in their police chief.There are some nights Austin contributes to the 11 p.m. newscast. On Tuesday, however, he was the 11 p.m. newscast. No one else provided better coverage.Bonssa Tufa, who was featured in Tuesday’s Airtme for producing a tribute video to the late race driver Ted Christopher, was at the other end of the TV camera on WTIC-TV61. He was interviewed after he became homeless when a Saturday night fire damaged his Hamden apartment. More than 50 apartments were damaged by the fire.

WFSB-TV3, however, had the same story on its Sunday night news, complete with an interview with Tufa, two days ahead of the Channel 61 interview.Channel 61 keyed its report claiming that residents of the complex were starting to speak out on the fire. Tufa, however, already spoke out on Sunday. Channel 3 was ahead of the game.Howard Stern is one of those media personalities who always is making news — even when he’s not on the air.According to a report in the New York Post, Stern is taking the entire summer off this year and won’t be returning to his SiriusXM radio show until September.That has upset some Stern fans, many of whom only subscribe because Stern is on satellite. Stern has probably sold more SiriusXM subscriptions than any other personality. And even though his audience is smaller than it was when he was on traditional radio, Stern still manages to get the major guests on his show that no one else does.Viewers who have full-year subscriptions, however, are upset that they are paying for Stern during July and August, but are only getting repeats.That added vacation time is part of Stern’s $500 million contract extension with SiriusXM he signed in 2020.Imagine how much he would be making if he worked 12 months a year?The Donald Trump presence was a gold mine for cable news — every night there was another nugget. Trump was always attacking someone or someone was attacking him and the cable networks benefitted. It made for memorable TV.Trump is in Florida these days, however, and the cable news ratings have also headed south.While Fox News Channel led the way in June, averaging 2.13 million in prime time, the numbers are down 42 percent from June 2020. MSNBC is a distant second in prime time, averaging 1.31 million viewers, down 36 percent. CNN is only averaging 798,000 in prime time, taking a 57 percent hit from a year ago.Cable news without Trump is like the Rolling Stones without Mick Jagger. There’s no one who can stir the drink.

Follow Matt Buckler for more television, radio, and sports coverage on the JI’s Twitter @journalinquirer, and see his articles on the Journal Inquirer Facebook page.

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