Nearly three million viewers tuned in for ESPN’s telecast of the first round of the Masters Tournament on Thursday, an increase of 40 percent over the Thursday audience of last year, according to Nielsen Fast National data.
The telecast, which aired from 3 p.m. – 7:20 p.m. ET, averaged 2,971,287 viewers, up 40 percent from the 2,129,214 Thursday average in 2017 and up 24 percent from the 2016 Thursday average of 2,397,624.
The telecast ranked as the fourth-best Thursday since ESPN began airing the Masters Tournament in 2008, exceeded only by the years in which Tiger Woods was featured in Thursday coverage (2009, 2010 and 2015). Most of Woods’ round on Thursday had already been completed when ESPN’s telecast began.
The telecast also saw growth across all key demographics, with a 44 percent increase in persons 25-54.
Digitally, ESPN saw significant growth across app and website usage compared to the opening Thursday of the tournament last year. The men’s golf section of the ESPN App saw a 111 percent increase in total minutes over 2017 (27,198,202 million vs. 12,889,566 million in 2017) with a 42 percent increase in visits (5,181,829 vs. 3,636,525 in 2017).
On ESPN.com, the golf section had a 41 percent increase in visits over last year (3,310,158 million vs. 2,353,247 million in 2017).
Also on Thursday, SportsCenter at the Masters, which included more coverage from the Masters than ever before, saw a 67 percent increase in overnight ratings from noon to 3 p.m. over 2017 (0.5 vs. 0.3 in 2017).
While ESPN’s live Masters coverage ends Friday, SportsCenter and ESPN.com will continue to report from the Masters throughout the weekend.
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