Trevor Immelman, LIV TV ratings and the top 10 media stories of 2023

trevor immelman smiles from broadcast booth while wearing headset and and suit

Trevor Immelman was one of many largest tales of the 12 months in golf media.

Chris Condon/Getty Photos

What sort of 12 months has it been?

Solely one of many strangest in golf historical past.

The golf world has nary seen a 12 months like these final twelve months — a rollicking journey of highs and lows; controversy and battle; trial and triumph; battle and peace; readability and confusion. As such, the golf media world was equally abuzz in a lot of 2023, as soon as once more reveling within the turnover and turmoil shared by its dad or mum sport.

There isn’t a questioning there have been massive moments in golf media in ’23 — the creation of LIV’s first over-the-air broadcast in america, the ascension of a brand new CBS lead analyst (and the high-profile dismissal of his NBC Sports activities counterpart) and the tip of a Masters’ pilgrimage for Jim Nantz, simply to call a couple of — however how do these moments stack up towards each other?

In what (we hope) is our last Scorching Mic of 2023, we try to offer that means to the moments that outlined the 12 months with the first-ever version of The Mikees. Beneath, we rank the ten largest golf media tales of 2023, and rejoice the moments that modified golf media as we all know it.

High 10 golf media tales of 2023

10. Jim Nantz’s ‘final dance’

The Masters marks the start of the main championship season, however in 2023 it additionally marked a notable finish: for the final time, Jim Nantz accomplished his annual pilgrimage from the Final Four to Augusta National.

Early final 12 months, Nantz, the voice of CBS’s NCAA Match and PGA Tour protection (amongst different sports activities), introduced his intention at hand over the reins to longtime NBA and NCAA voice Ian Eagle for the Closing 4 beginning in 2024. The choice meant that Nantz’s 2023 Closing 4 — a house sport for him, in Houston — can be his last time round one of many sports activities world’s final bucket-list weeks.

“Pay attention, it’s all the time been a little bit of a conundrum for me,” Nantz advised GOLF with amusing early in ’23. “After I’m on the Closing 4, all anybody desires to speak to me about is the Masters. I get reminded of it simply strolling via a restaurant, strolling down the road, strolling via a foyer — who’s gonna win the Masters subsequent week? Then, often I’m strolling round [Augusta National] attempting to catch up, attempting to get some face time with the highest gamers, however all they need to speak to me about is the basketball.”

Finally, Nantz determined it greatest for his already jam-packed work schedule to step away from the Closing 4 play-by-play position, however golf followers needn’t fear but about the identical taking place at Augusta Nationwide: Nantz has lengthy maintained his intention to retire after his 51st Masters, which might be held upon the one hundredth taking part in of the event in 2036.

9. CBS names a brand new boss

Overlook golf, it’s not a stretch to say Sean McManus has been one of many sports activities world’s most instrumental figures since taking up as CBS Sports activities chairman some 27 years in the past. The CBS Sports activities chief government has dealt with every thing from personnel selections to media rights negotiations within the quarter-century since his ascension to the lead job — a tenure that coincided with the explosion of the sports activities tv enterprise into some of the worthwhile items of the American media market.

Briefly, McManus has performed one of many key roles within the evolution of the sports activities TV world over the past three many years, and his work has entrenched CBS as one of many few marquee tv locations in america.

His retirement announcement, which arrived by way of a quiet press launch throughout Ryder Cup week, was typical McManus: surgical, understated, fast to defer the highlight. However there isn’t any doubting McManus’ retirement resolution has far-reaching implications for the sports activities — and golf — worlds, and regardless of his damndest makes an attempt, he won’t keep away from the limelight right here.

McManus will retire from his put up at CBS after the completion of the Masters in April, leaving long-time protege David Berson to succeed him atop the community. The sports activities world will miss him when he’s gone, however we received’t need to go far to see the fruits of his labor atop “The Eye.”

8. Business craziness

It qualifies as regarding for the state of golf tv protection when members of no less than three governing our bodies (PGA Tour, LPGA, USGA) are compelled to reply questions in regards to the volume and frequency of commercial interruptions throughout event broadcasts. In 2023, we had not solely that, but additionally a large-scale effort by a number of members of the golf web to trace interruptions in the course of the last massive occasion of the season, the Ryder Cup.

In fact, business gripes are usually not new to the world of golf tv, notably within the period of a $700+ million/12 months rights deal between CBS/NBC and the PGA Tour. However this is a matter that seems to be getting worse over time, not higher, and extends far past common Tour weeks.

The excellent news? Interviews with golf’s largest figures present they acknowledge the business subject is, in truth, a problem. However the golf world continues to be mild on options.

It’s laborious to sq. away how the economics of sports activities tv can higher serve the realities of stay golf, but it surely appears wise to hope that the subsequent time golf followers get up in the course of the night time to observe the Ryder Cup, they’re not subjected to an all-out business offensive. That is perhaps a great place to begin.

7. LIV’s CW debut

Any time a brand-new sports activities league secures a media rights settlement with a “nationwide” TV community, it qualifies as massive information. That LIV Golf discovered a nationwide broadcast accomplice for 2023 after a extremely controversial opening season on YouTube was, effectively, monumental.

The agreement between LIV and the CW — a two-year deal that featured a income share in 12 months 1 — was not anyplace close to the sports activities world’s “conventional” TV rights payouts. And, as time wore on, the settlement would supply some ache factors for either side (extra on that in a second). However the CW was a spot for LIV to air its tournaments the place regular sports activities followers might discover it on tv, and with the league sustaining management over the TV manufacturing, LIV’s media group was afforded the liberty to advance upon an revolutionary new construction of stay sports activities TV and graphics manufacturing.

These marked two large constructing blocks for LIV in what proved to be a decisive second season for the upstarts, giving the league what is certainly one of many sharpest technical telecasts in golf (although not with out its faults). Now, with an settlement with the PGA Tour looming and the reigning Masters champ coming aboard all whereas the media group seeks a brand new Friday broadcast accomplice, there’s ample cause for optimism heading into ’24.

6. The Stroll-and-Speak

I keep in mind distinctly a dialog I had within the spring of 2020, after I first discovered of the know-how that might revolutionize golf tv just some years later.

“We have been actually near utilizing a brand new know-how that enables AirPods to work like a broadcast headset,” one member of The Match‘s broadcast group advised me. “It wasn’t prepared but, however I wager you’ll see it on a golf broadcast within the subsequent few years.”

Because it turned out, that producer was predicting the long run. The “Eye on the Course” walk-and-talk interview segments began in earnest in 2023 on CBS, and shortly grew to become a staple of the golf tv panorama, producing a few of the most compelling participant content material we noticed all 12 months in professional golf. CBS Golf lead producer Sellers Shy was the primary to implement the tech, and he was rewarded for his innovation with a shocking (and completely compelling) pair of interviews with Rory McIlroy and Max Homa at the Masters.

In only a 12 months, the walk-and-talk went from a novelty to some of the well-regarded items of stay event protection every week, and we’re excited to see what the networks have in retailer to construct on the idea in 2024.

5. LIV stops reporting TV rankings

Sure, LIV’s broadcast stays technically and visually spectacular, however a a lot larger query stays:

Who’s watching it?

The reality is that we have now solely a restricted image of how the league has completed on the community, as a result of it stopped reporting rankings publicly after a pointy dropoff to begin the 2023 season.

cam smith crouches at LIV tulsa

After viewership dip, LIV Golf has quietly stopped reporting TV ratings


James Colgan

Sure, because the Hot Mic first reported in May, LIV stopped releasing viewership numbers from its occasions, a transfer that successfully ended its viewership battle with the PGA Tour. Nielsen rankings, which pass over some massive markets LIV is on TV in, present rankings of 150,000 or so common viewers — a pittance subsequent to the Tour’s numbers, which usually vary within the tens of millions.

We received’t have the ability to make an apples-to-apples comparability (and possibly that was by no means honest to start with), however LIV’s lack of readability on this topic stays some of the telling items of the continuing battle between the 2 events, particularly because the notion of LIV’s leverage on the negotiating desk with the Tour continues to develop.

4. NBC dumps Paul Azinger as lead analyst

A late entry into the story of the 12 months, however a big one nonetheless: Paul Azinger’s abrupt departure from NBC. Formally, the community elected to not renew his contract, however unofficially the transfer was clear as day: NBC was headed in a distinct path, only a 12 months after dropping two different longtime voices — Gary Koch and Roger Maltbie — in comparable vogue.

Azinger grew to be an unpopular determine within the lead chair for NBC earlier than his ouster in November after 5 years within the position. His model of folksy evaluation earned a lackluster crucial reception within the period of analytics. His “predictions” usually ran reverse to simply accessible knowledge. Within the later levels of his time with NBC, he usually derided towards a bunch he occurred to guide: the “golf media.”

Azinger’s departure opens the gates for NBC to additional reimagine its golf protection, and it appears the community goes to take its time in making a last resolution. Kevin Kisner, Brad Faxon and Brandel Chamblee are amongst those that will likely be “attempting out” within the new position early in 2024, a rotating sensible interview of kinds that would proceed effectively into the brand new 12 months.

For NBC, the method will likely be effectively well worth the wait if it really works out. Azinger’s predecessor within the lead analyst position, Johnny Miller, held the job for some 29 years. The peacock hopes the subsequent analyst is round for roughly simply as lengthy.

3. Netflix’s ‘Full Swing’ craze invades golf

Full Swing had been in growth for almost half a decade earlier than it lastly landed on Netflix screens worldwide in February, but it surely took a fraction of that point for the present to turn out to be a world hit.

Virtually instantly, the present achieved all of its pre-production guarantees: increasing golf’s viewers, enhancing its standing within the cultural zeitgeist, and incomes a cult following on the golf web.

Commercially, issues have been almost as promising. Audiences hooked up to the present immediately, incomes Full Swing Netflix High 10 rankings in a sequence of nations and constructive crucial reception the world over. The present’s topics have been in a single day sensations, having fun with sudden fame and a complete bunch of sponsorship cash in addition. Golf diehards even loved the motion, too, peeking behind the scenes into the 12 months the golf world flipped on its head.

In a shock transfer, Netflix would ultimately launch viewership knowledge from the present revealing it had been watched for 53.1 million hours in 2023 — roughly half the viewership time of Full Swing’s Formula1 counterpart, however roughly two occasions its tennis counterpart.

Briefly, it was laborious to image a greater success for Full Swing. The proof is within the proverbial pudding: Full Swing has already been renewed for season 2, which is anticipated to be launched within the subsequent few months.

2. Trevor Immelman’s masterful debut

Broadcasters play an important position in how we perceive the occasions that we watch, and amongst broadcasters, no position is extra essential in our understanding than that of the analyst. If it’s the job of the play-by-play man to clarify “the what,” then it’s the job of the analyst to clarify “the why” — and in a sport as esoteric as golf, “the why” is critically essential.

It’s for these causes that Trevor Immelman’s first 12 months within the CBS Sports activities lead chair raises to our second-biggest second of 2023 in golf media. Immelman, who stepped into the position vacated by the venerable Nick Faldo, was the most effective analysts in skilled sports activities in 2023 — bringing a dizzying mixture of golf mind and enthusiasm to the sales space for CBS. His preparation was evident throughout most stay broadcasts, and his work throughout Jon Rahm’s thrilling last spherical on the Masters represented the type of signature second that takes most analysts years to achieve.

In Immelman, CBS appears to have discovered its definitive voice of the long run. That’s a serious victory for lead producer Sellers Shy and the CBS Golf group, which deserves plaudits for the way in which it has dealt with a substantial overhaul in recent times.

CBS has come out the opposite finish with arguably essentially the most entertaining telecast within the sport.

1. Merger Insanity

It was the story of the 12 months in skilled golf — and golf media was no completely different. The implications of the merger between the PGA Tour and Saudi Public Funding Fund are huge, and far of them focus on … you guessed it, the media.

Allow us to first return to the day the information was introduced, June 6. Jay Monahan and Yasir Al-Rumayyan appeared on the Tour’s frequent news-breaking friends, CNBC, to share the information of the merger. That interview would turn out to be a bit of golf’s historical past nearly instantly, and spawn near a dozen hours of breathless, commercial-free protection on the Tour’s broadcast accomplice, Golf Channel.

When the mud from that day settled, it quickly grew to become clear that the Tour’s media companions wouldn’t simply be a part of how the merger was lined, they might be included as a part of the merger itself. Per the “framework settlement” with the Saudis, the Tour’s moneymaking companies like TV rights can be pooled right into a for-profit entity named PGA Tour Enterprises that was run by the Tour however funded partly by important Saudi funding. The companions, like the remainder of the golf world, have been blindsided.

It’s unclear exactly how the PGA Tour’s media enterprise will likely be affected by the merger (a lot of it depends upon whether or not the 2 events come to a “definitive settlement” to merge pursuits), however there isn’t any doubting this piece of knowledge: as with every thing else in professional golf, the merger was the story of the 12 months in 2023.

Have a thought you’d wish to share with the Scorching Mic? The writer welcomes your phrases at

James Colgan Editor

James Colgan is a information and options editor at GOLF, writing tales for the web site and journal. He manages the Scorching Mic, GOLF’s media vertical, and makes use of his on-camera expertise throughout the model’s platforms. Previous to becoming a member of GOLF, James graduated from Syracuse College, throughout which period he was a caddie scholarship recipient (and astute looper) on Lengthy Island, the place he’s from. He could be reached at

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