The 2012 U.S. Open received a boost in ratings for the final day of competition despite the fact that relative unknown Webb Simpson captured the title. The increase in ratings from the 2011 final, which saw Rory McIlroy come out victorious, can be attributed to how close the competition was for this year's nation's championship.
Via USA Today:
The U.S. Open on NBC Sunday drew a 6.6 overnight. Predictably, that's up from last year's final-round coverage -- by 29% -- when the event's finish wasn't close and, more importantly, it didn't run in East Coast primetime.
But compared to two previous West Coast U.S. Opens that has similar primetime schedules -- in 2008 and 2010 -- NBC's Sunday coverage was down. It was down 22% from 2008 and 4% from 2010.
While the primetime coverage would seem to help the event, it was more than likely the reason why the ratings were down compared to the other West Coast based Opens. Sunday's final round was forced to go head-to-head with Game 3 of the NBA Finals, which seemed to hurt the ratings for both events as viewers were split over what to tune into.