Over the next four days all eyes in the golfing world not lucky enough to actually be at Augusta will be glued to the Masters coverage on whatever kind of screen can be found, as we wait to see who walks away with the coveted green jacket.
Last year, viewing figures hit a three-year high in the US as an average of 13 million people watch the final round on CBS – an 18 per cent viewership increase on the 2017 edition.
ESPN also saw their viewing figures skyrocket with a 47 per cent increase in viewership for the first two days of the tournament compared to 2017. The average 3.5 million average was the broadcaster’s highest figure since 2013, partly fuelled by Tiger Woods return to Augusta.
In the UK, the free-to-air coverage on BBC Two saw a peak of 2.5 million as viewers tuned in to watch Rory McIlroy try and oust eventual champion Patrick Reid in the final round.
That level of attention, coupled with the pleasurable viewing experience offered by Augusta, the Masters ensures that even those outside the golfing hardcore take an interest, meaning the event becomes invaluable to the players and their partners from a marketing perspective.
With that in mind, Hookit, SportsPro’s official data partner has used its unique Marketability Score to discover which players offer the best value for money to marketers.
Due to the high-profile nature of the Masters, it is a prime time for golfer's and their marketing partners
Hookit created its bespoke Marketability Score last year in conjunction with the SportsPro 50 Most Marketable. The ranking system is based on the level of engagement across an athlete’s promoted posts on their four main social media channels: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.
A promoted post counts as any social post in which a brand name is mentioned or a hashtag is used to relate to the brand in question.
Athletes are given a score out of 100 based on three different sections: Reach Score, Engagement Score and Promotion Quality Score are all monitored to provide a sum total.
The Reach Score is based on the total number of followers an athlete has across their various channels, with a maximum of 30 points available.
The Engagement Score is focused on how engaged the athlete’s followers are with the promoted posts, i.e. likes, comments, shares and views; with a maximum score of 35 points available.
For the Promotion Quality Score the result is based on how much value the athlete drives for the brands that they are promoting. The score is decided by value per follower, with any athlete who had a value of more than US$7 per follower earning a perfect 35 out of 35 points.
Using Hookit’s Marketability Score is not just simply about finding the athlete’s with the biggest profile, it is about identifying opportunities in the market where athletes can provide value for money. Nike has the budget to pay Rory McIlroy millions of dollars but not all brands can pay that premium.
A Korea-born American with crossover appeal, Kevin Na tops the marketability rankings by providing excellent value for his apparel partners IZOD and Titleist with three almost identical scores across the three markers. The world number 54’s Reach Score of 23.9 is excellent as he easily surpassed the one million barrier for total views and engagements. He also registered a strong Engagement Score of 23.4, with his audience interaction rate at nearly 20 per cent.
Hookit’s data estimates that this steadiness has driven more than US$400,000 in value from his 71 promoted posts. Na’s reach is explained by his appeal in the South Korean market – the third largest for golf in the world only behind the US and Japan. The 2016 Korea Golf Industry White Paper found the golf business in the nation to be worth just under US$10 billion.
Kevin Na tops Hookit's list with a solid trio of scores across the board
In an unexpected turn, Patrick Cantlay, the golfer on the list with the least amount of promoted posts, interactions and mere 14,000 followers compared to his peers, came out in a surprise second by Hookit’s metrics. Due to Cantlay’s high engagement rate with his low followers, he scored a perfect 35 for Engagement Score. Hookit’s measurement on engagement is that if an athlete has an engagement rate of over ten per cent, they walk away with maximum points. So despite recording the lowest Reach Score and being in the bottom three for Promotion Quality Score with 10.5, Cantlay’s dedicated fans catapulted him towards the top.
Another perfect 35, this time in Promotion Quality Score, sees 23-year-old Li Haotong in third place of Hookit’s rankings. Haotong drives US$11 value per follower, putting him well above the US$7 value threshold to score a perfect score for his Promotion Quality. He has around 30,000 followers and 203 promoted posts which has resulted in a value drive of over US$325,000 for his brands. The Chinese player would rank higher on the list but a weaker Engagement Score of 4.4 puts him in the bottom three of the list.
Alexander Noren, Lucas Bjerregaard, Matt Wallace, Charley Hoffman and Satoshi Kodaira also feature further down Hookit’s top ten.
Of the household names on the list, current world number one Justin Rose (pictured, left) is perhaps the most notable. Rose finds himself ranked ninth by Hookit despite having driven a total value of almost US$6.5 million. However, his lack of Engagement Score is his undoing, scoring a measly 0.6 out of 35 available points due to a very low ratio of his 1.5 million followers interacting with his posts in the way smaller fan bases do with the likes of Cantlay and Haotong.
US Ryder Cup star Bryson DeChambeau sits just above Rose in eighth place in the rankings. Once again it is an Engagement Score of 6.2 that sees him fail to hit the heights. DeChambeau’s followers only interact with around five per cent of his promoted posts, so even though he has the second most followers on the list behind Rose, he is unable to turn this into significant marketability.
Superstars such McIlroy (pictured, right) and Dustin Johnson fail to make the top ten even though they have a combined value driven of more than US$18 million. Their poor Engagement Scores, an effect of having a huge number of followers, plus poor Promotion Quality Scores, mean that they are not as attractive marketability-wise for new brands and sponsors, according to Hookit.
On the event partner front, the Masters itself limits the amount of corporate sponsors at the event to just five, with each brand following stringent regulations on how they can promote themselves. Mercedes-Benz, AT&T, IBM, UPS and Rolex all pay vast fees to have very limited exposure, even in the digital age.
Ahead of the 2019 event, the Masters social media accounts have only posted one promotional post – for Mercedes-Benz – which only garnered 17,163 interactions and the value driven from the post was a mere US$110, according to Hookit. This value is less than all of the top ten most marketable golfers’ value driven for their major apparel sponsors.