U.S. Open Prime Time TV Ratings on NBC Rise 29% as Simpson Wins

Television ratings for NBC’s broadcast of the final round of golf’s U.S. Open rose 29 percent from a year earlier as Webb Simpson captured his first major championship, with the tournament ending during prime time on the U.S. East Coast.

The 6 1/2-hour coverage of the tournament yesterday at San Francisco’s Olympic Club was seen on the Comcast Corp. network in 6.6 percent of homes in the top 56 U.S. television markets, Adam Freifeld, a spokesman for the network, said in an e-mail. That’s 29 percent higher than the 5.1 rating the network drew when Rory McIlroy won the event last year at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland. The 2011 tournament ended around 7:30 p.m. Eastern time.

The broadcast ratings this year increased each half-hour between 8:30 and 10:30 p.m. New York time, peaking at 8.1 as former U.S. Open winners Graeme McDowell and Jim Furyk failed to birdie the 18th hole and force a playoff, sealing Simpson’s victory.

The prime-time finish put the year’s second golf major in competition with Game 3 of the National Basketball Association Finals, which generated a 10.4 big-market rating on Walt Disney Co.’s ABC, the network said in a news release.

LeBron James scored 29 points and Dwyane Wade added 25 as the Miami Heat beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 91-85 in Miami, taking a 2-1 advantage in the best-of-seven series.

Through three games, the matchup is the highest rated since 2004 and second highest ever on ABC, the network said, citing Nielsen Holdings NV. The series is averaging an 11.3 big-market rating, up 5 percent from 10.8 last year, when the Heat lost to the Dallas Mavericks.

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