Televising Charles Barkley swinging golf clubs poorly was very good for Golf Channel Monday night.
The Haney Project, in which Tiger Woods's swing coach Hank Haney began instructing the basketball Hall of Famer, became the most-watched premiere episode in network history.
The March 2 debut at 9 p.m. averaged a 0.4 household rating in attracting more than 800,000 unique viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research data. The show also collected a network best 0.45 average against men 25 to 54. Golf Channel's previous best debut: the first installment of Big Break III: Ladies Only in 2005.
The premiere of the seven-installment Haney Project was also the service's highest-rated program any day this year, outside of tournament coverage and signature news series, Golf Central.
Haney benefited from extensive promotion over the past couple of weeks during which Tiger Woods announced that he would return to the PGA Tour since having knee surgery following his U.S. Open playoff triumph last June.
Woods's presence at the WGC Accenture Match Play Championship on Feb. 25 and 26 helped make those telecasts the third and second most-watched in Golf's history.
As for Tiger's impact on ratings, Golf experienced that first-hand last Friday. Following Woods's elimination by Tim Clark in the tourney's second round, Golf's Feb. 27 third-round telecast declined by more than half, averaging 776,000 viewers from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., according to Nielsen data.