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TV Viewership Head-to-Head: How the Ryder Cup Fared vs. the NFL

This past weekend was all about sports on TV, with the NFL in full swing and (speaking of swings) golf pros competing for the 2018 Ryder Cup. We took a look at how TV viewers reacted and which big brands have been putting their ad dollars behind football and golf sportscasts.

Crossover viewership data from Inscape, the TV measurement company with glass-level data from a panel of more than 9 million smart TVs and devices, shows that 68% of people who watched the 2018 Ryder Cup over last weekend also tuned into NFL football, while only 22% of people who watched NFL football also viewed the Ryder Cup.

When it comes to viewer location, the Midwest tuned in more to watch NFL football, while the North East and Florida (and, yes, parts of the Midwest) were hot on the 2018 Ryder Cup. (On the heatmaps below, the darker the color in the graphic, the more households were tuning in.)

When it comes to advertising spend, the NFL dwarfed the Ryder Cup, according to advertising analytics firm iSpot.tv. Brands spent an estimated $159.1 million on NFL broadcasts from Sept. 28-30, while the Ryder Cup outlay totally about $15.8 million. GEICO topped the list of the biggest spenders for both the NFL and Ryder Cup.

But when looking at viewer attention during commercials, the Ryder Cup won: spots during the biennial men’s golf competition had an average iSpot Attention Index of 108, receiving 8% fewer interruptions than the average ad (interruptions include changing the channel, pulling up the guide, fast-forwarding or turning off the TV). Ad that aired during NFL games (again, from Sept. 28-30) had an iSpot Attention Index of 68, meaning those commercials had 32% more interruptions.