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