Growl! Tiger’s absence no fun for networks, advertisers

June 19, 2008

tiger.jpgThere was much written in the sports pages (and in some cases the business pages) about Tiger Woods’ decision to miss the rest of the golf season and undergo reconstructive knee surgery.  

His absence is a big deal for sports fans – not to mention marketers and TV networks. After all, he is the biggest American sports machine since Michael Jordan.   

 ”Much like Michael Jordan did (Woods) has the power of drawing in the more casual viewer or participant to the sport,” Stifel Nicolaus analyst Thomas Shaw told Reuters. “He has the ability of driving some participation. It gets people excited to get out and dust off the clubs and play some.”

This hasn’t been lost on advertisers. Woods ranked second on Forbes’ Celebrity 100 list, bringing in $115 million in 2007. He promotes General Motors’ Buick line of cars, Nike, Gillette and Accenture. He also began his first licensing venture this year with Gatorade Tiger, which media outlets reported as being worth at least $100 million.

Of course, nobody is about to abandon Tiger just because he’s taking the season off. But his layoff could alter some near term plans. General Motors is one company, for instance, that will have to change course, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Buick is being forced to drop one of its advertising efforts, which has been hyping a Buick promotion and contest. TV ads, print ads and a slew of Internet ads have been highlighting a “Tee-Off with Tiger” promotion that gives entrants a chance to win the opportunity to have Mr. Woods caddie for them while playing a round of golf in October.

The TV networks will also feel some pain from Tiger’s injury. He’s carried the sport with viewers for the past decade. As the New York Times put it:

Network executives and sponsors were not visibly panicking Wednesday that Tiger Woods would be gone from golf for the rest of the year as he recovered from reconstructive knee surgery. But their disappointment was palpable.

As the newspaper points out, the numbers make clear that Tiger has a bigtime impact on ratings. It says that in 88 tournaments over the last five years, Woods finished in the top five. During those, final round TV ratings hit an average of 4.4. In those events in which he did not finish in the top five, ratings averaged just 3.4 percent.

Keep an eye on:

  • French financier Vincent Bollore said on Thursday that figures for his advertising company Havas were very good so far this year and added that Havas had not been impacted by the global credit crunch (Reuters)
  • Google and Yahoo face intense U.S. Justice Department scrutiny of their deal to share some advertising revenue, and the heat will likely increase under a new administration (Reuters)
  • Mario Puzo’s estate filed a $1-million lawsuit against Paramount Pictures for allegedly cheating “The Godfather” author’s heirs out of proceeds from a Corleone-inspired video game (LA Times)
  • Billionaire investor Carl Icahn’s new blog, The Icahn Report, would go live Thursday afternoon (USA Today)

(Photo: Reuters)

One comment

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My comment pertains to Tiger Woods. I never watch golf unless he is playing. I get a high when he pulls one out of the gutter so to speak, not especially when he wins. No one should ever give in and quit, but taking time out for knee repair is sensible. Why ruin a career for the sake of playing all summer long? My husband and I never left the TV during the agonies and cheered when he made a comeback after little goofs.I will keep on getting up and going on as long as I see people like Tiger doing just that.