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Original Issue

Sunday Driver Once again, a network rides Tiger Woods to a Nielsen triumph

With his victory at St. Andrews on Sunday, Tiger Woods earned ABC
a robust 7.5 in the overnight Nielsens, 32% higher than the
final-round rating in 1999. Like an earthquake that registered
7.5 on the Richter scale, the British Open's powerful number
produced noticeable Nielsen aftershocks. ABC's telecast of the
CART Michigan 500, which immediately followed Woods's victory,
pulled down a 3.7 rating; the race's best showing during the
previous three years had been a 1.9.

Meanwhile, NBC had hoped that an audience entranced by golf
would switch over en masse to the U.S. Women's Open that aired
about an hour after the British Open ended. Good try--Karrie
Webb & Co. mustered a 1.9. That rating was only a slight
improvement on '99's final round, which earned a 1.5 against the
PGA Memorial on CBS. That number, however, was no doubt
depressed because Woods was winning the Memorial and holding
onto viewers with an exciting duel against Vijay Singh during
the final round.

Most indicative of the breadth of Tiger's hegemony--he has
become to sports programming what cleavage is to the USA
Network--was what happened between 5 and 6 p.m. While NBC was in
its final hour of coverage of the distaff tournament, ABC was
airing a one-hour British Open highlights show. The celebration
of Tiger's runaway triumph earned a 3.0 in the Nielsens, almost
50% better than the audience for the Women's Open, which earned
a 2.1.