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How Scottie Scheffler’s arrest affected TV ratings, CBS executive talks

Scottie Scheffler’s arrest played a role in the 2024 PGA Championship ratings explosion.

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“And I REALLY mean…”

David Berson said, leaning against his desk at the CBS location of the PGA Championship. The topic was declining golf TV ratings, and Berson — the brand new chairman of CBS — had something to say.

Welcome back to another extended edition of the Hot Mic Newsletter, A weekly GOLF post covering all things golf from me, James Colgan. This week’s newsletter headlines golf TV ratings, including the latest from the explosive PGA Championship in Louisville. As always, if you’d like to be the first to receive exclusive information like this directly from me, click link here to subscribe to our for free send a newsletter. But first, we go back inside the CBS Sports production trailer, where the new head of CBS Sports made it a point to address the moving topic of golf TV ratings directly.

“Let’s not go further when it comes to the question of equality,” he said bluntly. “It’s too early to worry.”

I hadn’t done much research, but Berson, who was hand-picked to replace CBS front man Sean McManus, was eager to set the record straight. Ratings aren’t a concern for CBS, or at least, that’s its official standing in the entire golf world.

“Let’s not jump to big conclusions based on this small set of facts,” Berson said. “There are a lot more measurements that need to go in before we can hear either way.”


Apparently, golf’s declining ratings — perhaps spurred by the LIV/PGA Tour split — got the attention of CBS leadership. The topic has been a hot topic for the past few months among golf professionals, especially after ratings for the CBS Masters near record lows.

CBS has its tentacles all over golf: It’s in the middle of a ten-year, multibillion-dollar PGA Tour rights deal, and has long-standing deals with the PGA of America and the Masters. The past few years have changed the landscape of the sport, sure, but Berson says it’s too early to panic.

“Would we like to see unity in professional golf? Yes,” said Berson. “Would we like to visit to find you? Yes. But I have faith that they will.”


The merger is a major concern for CBS, especially with reports focusing on the two sides as making “little” progress toward a definitive agreement over the past 12 months. The break hurts the presence of golf TV, where the stars are a big piece of the ratings. The only thing worse than being broke is… for a long time to break.

“We would like there to be a sense of urgency to get the game back together,” said Berson. “But, as I said, we are not worried about the audience. It’s too early.”


What is Berson’s message to the golf world as he sits in arguably its most powerful seat?

“Me love golf. And CBS love golf,” he said. “I don’t want people to see us as private companies. We are a group of die-hard sports fans. It is our responsibility to tell the stories and cover the events to help sports fans enjoy watching what they love honestly.


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Plot: The PGA found the Scottie Bump


Scottie Scheffler’s world-shattering arrest at the PGA Championship on Friday morning was good enough to level the ratings all weekend in Louisville, where CBS saw a 10 percent jump Sunday over Brooks Koepka’s victory last May.


CBS was thrown to have some good news to share, especially after the Sunday Masters numbers mentioned above this year (albeit without promotion outside of home since the end of the Easter Sunday Masters of 2023).

The PGA numbers were still the second lowest in the last five years, but the competition for sports fans on Sunday afternoon was intense. The PGA competed against a pair of blockbuster NBA game 7s, a much longer contender than Koepka’s numbers from last year, with only Game 2 of the NHL’s Western Conference Finals to contend with.


Scheffler’s arrest certainly contributed to the intrigue. For a few seconds on Friday afternoon, the story was part of the monoculture of sports in a way that few golf stories have reached in the chaos of the last few years. ESPN’s Friday numbers are up accordingly, up 18 percent from last May.

I wrote a few weeks ago about Scottie’s struggle to distinguish himself as a star to watch. This weekend’s events went a long way toward reversing that trend.

If you enjoyed this story, you can get my exclusive information sent to your inbox each week by following the link here. You can reach me by email at

James Colgan Editor

James Colgan is a news editor and features at GOLF, writing articles for websites and magazines. He manages Hot Mic, the GOLF media stand, and applies his camera knowledge to all product platforms. Before joining GOLF, James graduated from Syracuse University, at which time he was the recipient of a caddy (and atute looper) scholarship on Long Island, where he hails from. He can be reached at

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