CHANGE OF THRONES

FALDO un­seats JOHNNY MILLER as view­ers’ favourite an­a­lyst in Golf Di­gest’s new TV SUR­VEY

Golf Digest (South Africa) - - Contents - By Alex My­ers

Nick Faldo un­seats Johnny Miller as favourite an­a­lyst in our TV sur­vey.

If Johnny Miller is read­ing this, we hope he’s sit­ting down. Prefer­ably, in the com­fort of his home, while wear­ing his favourite pair of hounds-tooth-pat­tern pants. Johnny, there’s no easy way to say this, but when it comes to golf an­a­lysts, you’re not the peo­ple’s choice any­more.

Nick Faldo over­tak­ing Miller was one of the most note­wor­thy nd­ings in Golf Di­gest’s lat­est sur­vey of Amer­i­can TV view­ers. It wasn’t a blowout, but Faldo, the six-time ma­jor cham­pion, re­ceived 58 per­cent to Miller’s 53 per­cent in the favourite-an­a­lyst cat­e­gory. (Re­spond- ents could choose mul­ti­ple op­tions.) In previous TV sur­veys (2002 and 1996), Miller was the dom­i­nant win­ner among an­a­lysts.

But was it a fair ght? Miller still had plenty of sup­port and was widely praised for his “bru­tal hon­esty,” but Faldo has four more ma­jors and that dis­tin­guished English ac­cent. More im­por­tant, he gets to call the Masters, the run­away favourite event among view­ers (66 per­cent to 12 per­cent for the Ry­der Cup), as well as a sec­ond ma­jor, the PGA Cham­pi­onship. Mean­while, NBC didn’t broad­cast the US Open in 2015 for the rst time in two decades, and it wasn’t a Ry­der Cup year.

Re­gard­less, there’s no con­test when it comes to hosts/play-by­play an­nounc­ers. Jim Nantz again emerged an easy win­ner among re­spon­dents, who were 83 per­cent male, had a me­dian age of 59, and av­er­aged watch­ing 19 tour­na­ments in 2015. In other words, these weren’t just band­wagon Masters fans. To be sure, Nantz’s pop­u­lar­ity isn’t hurt by his ubiq­ui­tous pres­ence at CBS’ big­gest sport­ing events. Still, his 65 per­cent (nearly dou­bling ESPN’s Mike Tirico, at 33 per­cent) ver­sus just 8 per­cent of view­ers namin nam­ing Nantz their least favourite, is im­pres­sive.

It wasn’t all smiles and “Hello “Hello, friends,” for CBS, though, as th the net­work said good­bye to one of its star per­son­al­i­ties, David Fe­herty. An over­whelm­ing choice for favourite on-course re­porter ( 74 per­cent), Fe­herty ended a 19-year re­la­tion­ship with the net­work in Septem­ber and is adding NBC to his Golf Chan­nel du­ties. CBS will gain Dot­tie Pep­per (No 5 at 35 per­cent) in 2016, but Fe­herty seems ir­re­place­able.

In fact, a comedic touch can go a long way. Another CBS jokester, Gary McCord (52 per­cent), was the most pop­u­lar hole an­nouncer, fol­lowed closely by Peter Ja­cob­sen (50 per­cent) on NBC. And Faldo’s sense of hu­mour played a big part in him edg­ing Miller. Also, when view­ers were asked to pick which celebrity they’d most like to see on a golf tele­cast, co­me­dian Jimmy Fal­lon was the over­whelm­ing choice at 43 per­cent, and un­in­ten­tional co­me­dian Don­ald Trump took sec­ond at 14 per­cent.

In ad­di­tion to los­ing the game’s top fun­ny­man, CBS also lost its grip as favourite golf net­work for the rst time since Golf Di­gest started this sur­vey in 1988. Golf Chan­nel, which nished its 21st year of be­ing the only 24-hour golf net­work,

took that cat­e­gory (38 per­cent to 29 per­cent) and ben­e­fit­ted from a deep, bal­anced ros­ter. The po­lar­is­ing Bran­del Cham­blee nished as the sixth-favourite an­a­lyst and tied for sec­ond-most dis­liked. In­ter­est­ingly, he was edged in pop­u­lar­ity by rookie team­mate David Duval. Not even the pres­ence of Holly Son­ders, who nished No 3 among re­porters, or a star-stud­ded booth duo of Joe Buck and Greg Nor­man trans­lated into a good rst im­pres­sion by Fox at the 2015 US Open. In fact, Buck and Nor­man were named least favourite in their re­spec­tive cat­e­gories, with Buck widely crit­i­cised for a per­ceived lack of golf knowl­edge and Nor­man get­ting knocked for a sur­plus of ar­ro­gance.

Not sur­pris­ingly, there was a huge di er­ence in how to­day’s fans con­sume pro golf and which play­ers they fol­low most closely. Jor­dan Spieth, af­ter his mon­ster sea­son, was a clear favourite player to watch (view­ers were 83 per­cent more likely to watch when he was in con­tention), and Tiger Woods fell from rst in 2002 to sixth, at 55 per­cent.

All par­tic­i­pants said they watched at least 10 events on TV in the past year, but 69 per­cent re­ported they have watched golf tour­na­ments us­ing mo­bile apps, which didn’t ex­ist when Golf Di­gest last con­ducted this sur­vey.

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