How Scottie Scheffler’s arrest affected TV ratings, CBS chief speaks out | Hot Mic

Scottie Scheffler walks through a crowd at the PGA Championship in a striped shirt

Scottie Scheffler's arrest played a role in the PGA Championship's ratings bump in 2024.

Joe Robbins/Getty Images


David Berson said, leaning forward at his desk on the CBS compound at the PGA Championship. The topic was golf’s sagging TV ratings, and Berson — CBS’s brand-new chairman — had something to say.

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

“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves when it comes to the ratings stuff,” he said matter-of-factly. “It’s early to be worried.”

I hadn’t probed much, but Berson, the hand-picked successor to longtime CBS lead man Sean McManus, was eager to set the record straight. The ratings are not a concern for CBS, or at least, that’s their official posture to the rest of the golf world.

“Let’s not draw larger conclusions based on this small set of facts,” Berson said. “There are a lot more ratings that need to come in before we can feel any sort of way.”


Clearly, golf’s falling ratings — perhaps fueled by the LIV/PGA Tour split — have earned the attention of CBS leadership. The topic has been the subject of many a story over the last several months in pro golf, particularly in the aftermath of CBS Masters ratings that neared record lows.

CBS has its tentacles all over golf: It’s only halfway through a decade-long, multi-billion-dollar PGA Tour rights deal, and it has longstanding agreements with the PGA of America and Masters. The last few years have changed the landscape of the sport, sure, but Berson says it’s early to be hammering the panic button.

“Would we like for there to be unity in professional golf? Yes,” Berson said. “Would we like the tours to figure it out? Yes. But I have faith that they will.”


The merger is a big concern for CBS, especially with reports pegging both sides as making “minimal” progress toward a definitive agreement in the last 12 months. Fracture is hurtful for golf’s TV existence, where stars are a huge piece of the ratings pie. The only thing worse than fracture is … prolonged fracture.

“We’d like there to be a greater sense of urgency to getting the game back together,” Berson said. “But, like I said, we’re not worried about the audience. It’s just too early.”


What’s Berson’s message to the golf world now that he sits in arguably its most powerful chair?

“I love golf. And CBS loves golf,” he said. “I don’t want people to see us as some corporate monolith. We’re a group of diehard sports fans. It’s our responsibility to tell stories and cover events to help sports fans enjoy watching something they genuinely love.

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The B-Plot: The PGA received a Scottie Bump


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


CBS was surely pumped to have some decent ratings news to share, particularly after the aforementioned Masters Sunday numbers this year (albeit without the out-of-home boost from 2023’s Easter Sunday Masters finish).

The PGA numbers were still the second-lowest of the last five years, but the competition for sports fans on Sunday afternoon was steep. The PGA jutted against a pair of blockbuster NBA game 7s, a far gaudier opponent than last year’s Koepka numbers, which had only game 2 of the NHL’s Western Conference Finals to compete against.


Scheffler’s arrest surely contributed to the intrigue. For a few moments on Friday afternoon, the story was part of the sports monoculture in a way few golf stories have reached over these turbulent last few years. ESPN’s Friday numbers were up accordingly, rising some 18 percent over last May.

I wrote a few weeks ago about Scottie’s struggles to separate himself as a superstar worth watching. The events of this weekend went a long way in reversing that trend.

If you enjoyed this story, you can get my exclusive insights 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 and features editor at GOLF, writing stories for the website and magazine. He manages the Hot Mic, GOLF’s media vertical, and utilizes his on-camera experience across the brand’s platforms. Prior to joining GOLF, James graduated from Syracuse University, during which time he was a caddie scholarship recipient (and astute looper) on Long Island, where he is from. He can be reached at

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