Tiger's Masters Return: CBS, ESPN May See Less Green
Wouldn't you like to be a member of AT&T's marketing department today?
Several weeks ago you gained major points with women for dropping a major golf sponsorship you had with Tiger Woods. Now, weeks later, as a TV and event sponsor of CBS' part of The Masters golf tournament, AT&T stands to reach men in record numbers.
There's more. Unlike other golf events, The Masters has very limited TV advertising inventory. For CBS and ESPN -- in addition to AT&T -- the only other advertisers are IBM and ExxonMobil.
On top of this, the August National golf club, which controls the event, only allows four minutes of advertising time per hour. That's prime glut-free exposure.
First off, the TV advertising for The Masters golf event is sold as part of an overall sponsorship package by Augusta National golf club - not the TV networks. Augusta then sells the entire programming/advertising package to networks like CBS and ESPN.
That means -- with the sudden news of Woods' return -- there is no extra advertising inventory to sell to new sponsors for what will be a very high-rated TV sports event featuring Woods playing for the first time after news broke of his sex scandal.
Secondly, CBS and ESPN can't even spin this potential high viewership to its other programming. That's because The Masters forbids any promotion of other TV programming during its event.
CBS and ESPN will get something less tangible: big ratings and great public relations value for airing the event. The more lucrative payment for those networks comes if Woods continues to be a factor in big golf events where they sell the advertising.
But ESPN might stand to gain more here. If Woods is at all rusty, there is a fair chance he may not make the cut that puts a small, select group of better players into the Saturday and Sunday rounds that CBS airs.
In either case, AT&T looks to gain the most -- turning its recent swing into a stroke of marketing luck.