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Masters Freeze Out – What to do?

The PGA Tour considers itself to have “The Most Valuable Audience in Sports.” According to PGA Tour data, its fans earn more, spend more, and give more than fans of other major sports.

For most professional sports, advertising drives much of their revenue. For golf, at virtually every tournament in the world, corporate logos dominate the scenery and commercials seem to air after every shot.

But during golf’s version of the Super Bowl, the Masters, the commercials are scarce. In fact, local commercials aren’t even allowed during the broadcast.

Each year, the Masters limits its sponsors to just five global companies. In 2016, those were: AT&T, IBM, Mercedes-Benz, UPS and Rolex. Each paid about $6 million to split four minutes of commercials per hour.

In 2003, the Masters had no sponsors. As the ultra-exclusive Augusta National Golf Club dealt with pressure to admit female members, tournament leaders felt it was better to forego the revenue than have their sponsors pulled into the controversy.

You will see no local TV commercials during the Thursday and Friday round coverage on ESPN, and nothing on CBS over the weekend.

But, if you are a local advertiser trying to reach “The Most Valuable Audience In Sports,” here are some options to get you involved in the coverage:

CBS Affiliates

On April 6 and 7, CBS will air a 15-minute Masters Highlight Show at 11:30 p.m. Local air time is available.

Commercial pods immediately before and after The Masters broadcast are also available. Typical programming includes historical coverage and post-round analysis.

Hop over to Cable

Golf Channel offers wall-to-wall coverage with “Live from the Masters” updates all weekend. Typical viewing patterns have Masters watchers migrating to the Golf Channel for behind-the-scenes coverage.

The year, CBS Sports Network is offering a live daily show called “Masters on the Range” featuring live coverage of player warm-ups.

“Second Screen”

77 percent of TV watchers also use a second screen while watching TV; for example, sitting on the couch watching the Masters on TV, but also online using a phone or tablet (Google/IPSOS/Sterling Study). Online banners (or digital video) can be purchased to be displayed on the second screen (desktop, mobile or tablet) when someone is watching the Masters on TV (or the other programs mentioned above). Second screen ads can also “sync” to display when specific advertisers run a TV ad – for example, when a TV commercial for a golf club airs (any channel), a display ad can be shown on a second screen.

Go Digital

A good bit of Masters viewership occurs via streaming on, primarily on Thursday and Friday. This “supposed-to-be-working-but-watching-the-Masters crowd” can be reached a number of ways.

On Google Display Network (GDN), you can target golf and sports domains like,,, etc., and/or websites with golf-related content. This would enable your banners to appear on Google Ad Space available on these websites.

Banner ads (display and native video) could be displayed to various online golf audiences, including people who have bought golf products, people who read content about golf or people who are searching for a tee time. Additional audiences can be built out as look-alike models to these golf enthusiasts to find other online users with similar behaviors.

Get Mobile

Use mobile devices to identify people who have been to a golf course and/or golf stores (using geo-targeting) and are golf enthusiasts (reading relevant content, making golf related purchases, etc.), and then serve them online ads.

Social Media

Save for the actual use of trademarks like "Masters," "Augusta," or even the phrase, "A tradition unlike any other," advertisers can get creative when it comes to social media posts during the event.

Whether you're a tourism department promoting the golf courses in the area or a jeweler advertising a new line of sports watches for men, targeting users on Facebook that fit the behaviors and profile of someone who would watch the Masters can help you get your brand into the conversation as well.

Old School

Sports radio – Local sports radio stations have sponsor-able segments and will always broadcast updates on the Masters leaderboard.

Sports section of print – Some still read the paper, and coverage of the tournament will undoubtedly be found in the sports sections. Sponsoring the recap or running an adjacent ad are options.

Digital billboards – With digital screens comes the ability to change messaging frequently. Leaderboard updates are sure to be noticed by passing drivers.

Even though the broadcast is blocked, there are many ways to get in front of this engaged audience as they consume golf at an alarming rate. For most, they’re dusting off their clubs, taking practice swings in their living rooms, and booking golf getaways all over the world. Not to mention shopping and buying all of the things you have to sell.

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