CBS, ESPN Look to Cash in on Tiger’s Return at Masters

This week’s telecast of the Masters is expected to attract a record number of viewers should Tiger Woods be on the leader board come Sunday. According to Reuters, ratings for the tournament on ESPN and CBS are expected to skyrocket as the PGA’s most recognizable player makes his return to golf at Augusta National following his highly publicized sex scandal.

When Woods appeared at a news conference on Monday, social networking website Twitter logged 11,000 comments during the one-hour event, tracking firm Trendrr said. In addition, massive crowds turned out for Woods’ first practice at Augusta on Tuesday.

The two most-watched Masters in the last 30 years came in 1997, when 20.3 million viewers tuned in to watch Woods win the tournament for the first time, and in 2001when Woods won again and 19.2 million viewers watched.

Both ESPN and CBS have pledged to focus on golf in their coverage of Tiger, but have said that discussion of his off-the-course issues is not off-limits.

Both ESPN and CBS have planned extensive Web coverage for this year’s tournament, which should help ESPN’s Thursday-Friday coverage. CBS’s weekend ratings will rely heavily on whether Woods makes the cut and plays well in the final two rounds.

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