Ratings Roundup: Appleby’s 59 Fails To Drive Ratings for Greenbrier Classic

Despite Stuart Appleby’s awe-inspiring round of 59 on Sunday, the inaugural Greenbrier Classic failed to score in the ratings game. CBS’s Sunday coverage of the golf tournament posted a 1.2 overnight rating, down 70% from last year’s Buick Open, which notched a 4.0 on the comparable weekend. Appleby became the fifth PGA Tour player ever to shoot a 59 and reach 59 on a par-70 course, but it was not enough to attract a substantial audience. Last year’s Buick Open was won by the PGA’s biggest draw, Tiger Woods. Saturday’s third-round coverage on CBS notched a 1.0 overnight, down 58% from last year’s Buick Open.

Versus’s coverage of the Tour de France averaged 456,000 viewers during the network’s 21 live telecasts, down 14% from the 530,000 it averaged in 2009. However, viewership was up significantly from Lance Armstrong’s three-year hiatus from the race — up 70% from 2008 (268,000), 33% from 2007 (343,000), and 47% from 2006 (310,000). This year’s viewership peaked during Versus’s July 11 coverage of stage 8 (724,000 viewers) and then plummeted following Armstrong’s devastating crash during the mountain stage.

The Tampa Bay Rays shattered their ratings record for a regular-season game and for a three-game series over the weekend during a showdown with AL East rival New York Yankees. Saturday’s game garnered a 10.7 rating (193,000 households) on Sun Sports, easily eclipsing the franchise’s previous record, 9.3 on July 2, 2008, against the Boston Red Sox on WXPX-TV Bradenton, FL. The entire Yankees-Rays series averaged a 9.9 rating (178,000 households), besting the previous record for a three-game series set by a 2008 Red Sox series that averaged a 9.0. The Rays took two of three in the series, the first three-game sellout in franchise history, to pull into a dead tie with the Yankees for the AL East lead.

The second installment of UFC on Versus on Monday put up a 0.86 household rating (991,000 viewers), down from the first UFC on Versus event, which averaged 1.24 million viewers in March. UFC’s primary cable partner, Spike TV, usually draws in 1.5 million-2 million viewers for events of similar stature. The event at San Diego Sports Arena in California was the second and final fight scheduled to air on Versus in 2010; officials have yet to confirm UFC-Versus plans for 2011.

The surging Texas Rangers’ acquisition of ace left-hander Cliff Lee has rejuvenated Fox Sports Southwest’s ratings, with two of the pitcher’s first five starts with the team logging ratings of 6.1 and 5.9, respectively — the two highest-rated games of the season thus far. Lee’s July 27 start against the Oakland A’s not only posted a 6.1 (155,208 homes) but ranks fourth for Rangers ratings on Fox Sports Southwest and won the night among all local stations.

The MLS All-Star game rode the World Cup ratings wave to a 0.44 rating (714,000 viewers) on ESPN2. Ratings for Manchester United’s 5-2 win over the MLS All-Stars on July 28 were up 57% from 2009 (0.28) and up 10% from 2008 (0.40). ESPN2 has averaged 251,000 viewers through 14 telecasts this season.