"Behind the scenes of Johnny Miller's broadcast farewell"

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Ryan Lavner of GolfChannel.com tagged along with Johnny Miller for his final days with NBC Sports, and besides the still horrifying revelation of Johnny’s love for cheese whiz, there is plenty to enjoy.

This was fun:

The provocative commentary turned off some fans at home and didn’t endear Miller to those in the locker room, many of whom thought he was a bitter know-it-all lobbing grenades from above. Televised sports is rife with pros-turned-broadcasters who offer platitudes and coddle the athletes they cover. Miller never intended to be malicious; his mantra was accuracy, truth and honesty will always prevail.

“I like to say that I take off their clothes, but I leave their underwear on,” Miller says.  

If he ever thought he crossed the line on-air, he took two fingers and zipped his mouth shut. That was his cue to change the subject, even if a stunned Hicks sometimes needed 15 seconds of silence to recover.

Early in this farewell telecast, Hicks tries to goad Miller into a few more golf spike-in-mouth moments – “We know you’ve been holding back for 29 years, so have at it!” – but the opportunity for some vintage Johnny candor never presents itself. This is a day of celebration, after all, and sprinkled throughout the broadcast are tributes from Tour legends and past commissioners, NBC colleagues and other notable broadcasters, even a taped message from President Trump

For those who missed it, Roger Maltbie’s live farewell was incredible:

 

Roundup: Farewell's To Johnny Miller As He Gets Ready For His Final Broadcast

After nearly 30 years in the booth, Johnny Miller will call his final NBC broadcast on Saturday while working part of Friday’s Waste Management Open telecast on Golf Channel.

The broadcast, with NBC filling in for Super Bowl broadcaster CBS, will represent the 20th consecutive year of Miller and Dan Hicks making them the longest-tenured 18th tower tandem in broadcast golf history.

The farewells are flowing and the takes have all been a bit different.

David Feherty’s reflections as only Feherty can summarize a career.

Eamon Lynch points out how players came around to respecting Johnny after some rough days early on. Winning at Pebble Beach in 1994 delivered another level of street cred for those who forgot how incredible he was in the mid-1970s.

Speaking of that, Jim McCabe looks back at Johnny’s special relationship with desert golf.

Jerry Tarde recalls various Johnny stories for Golf Digest.

Josh Sens recaps Johnny’s 14 most memorable moments.

Tom Hoffarth reminds us how much we’ll miss Miller.

Of course the late Dick Enberg is gone but another sidekick of Johnny’s remembered him on this week’s Real Sports. The video here, the text of Bryant Gumbel’s remarks below:

After 29 years as golf’s preeminent analyst, Johnny is calling it quits, leaving his seat in the tower on the 18th hole, and leaving a television void that is irreplaceable. 

I had the pleasure of being Johnny’s TV partner on his very first broadcast back in 1990. That’s when he famously used the word ‘choke’ as a player stood over an important shot. In subsequent tournaments, he raised hackles by saying one player ‘should’ve just stayed home,’ and that another had a swing ‘that would make a great player puke.’

That such remarks often caused a raucous speaks well of Johnny, and less so of the sad lack of candor in televised sports. In a business that is too often bland, Miller’s honesty has been unusual, his insights blunt, and his assessments smart.

That’s been his stock and trade since Day 1, so on his last day there’s no telling just what he might say from the PGA Tour stop in Phoenix this weekend. 

Look – televised golf may not be your thing, but if you never caught Johnny Miller’s work, you should try it, because there’s no one quite like him in all of live sports broadcasting. 

Given the increasing coddling of modern athletes in general, and touring pros in particular, I doubt there ever will be.

Mike O’Malley compiles the best of Johnny wisdom through the years.

Skratch put together this tribute of Johnny being Johnny moments:

2019 Farmers Insurance Open Ratings Hold Steady Based On Recent Years

With 2018’s final round running long and then going to a playoff seen mostly on Golf Channel, the best ratings comparison for the 2019 Farmers Insurance Open won by Justin Rose may be 2017, notes SBD’s Austin Karp:

Last year, CBS drew a 2.9 for Sunday’s telecast, but had to hand the finish off to Golf Channel for five playoff holes between Day, Ryan Palmer and Alex Noren. The playoff ended up finishing Monday morning. Two years ago, the final round drew a 2.1 overnight for Jon Rahm’s three-stroke win.

The 2019 edition drew a 2.2 against the Pro Bowl (5.7).

While flat in sports these days is generally good, with Tiger on course for part of the telecast the number could be seen as a tad disappointing given his recent impact on ratings.


Johnny To Hang Up His Headset After Waste Management Third Round

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Good move to let Johnny Miller say his goodbye after a third round telecast and not when a PGA Tour event Sunday is playing out or after when everyone is watching the Los Angeles Rams vault to an early lead over the New England Patriots.

For Immediate Release:

JOHNNY MILLER TO CALL FINAL BROADCAST ON SATURDAY AT WASTE MANAGEMENT PHOENIX OPEN AFTER NEARLY 30 YEARS AS LEAD GOLF ANALYST 

NBC Sports to Celebrate Miller’s Three Decades with the Network through

Special Tributes and Reflections During Live Third Round Broadcast

 

ORLANDO, Fla., (Jan. 23, 2019) – Johnny Miller will call his final broadcast next Saturday (Feb. 2) during NBC Sports’ live third round coverage of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, following nearly 30 years spent as the network’s lead golf analyst. The broadcast will celebrate Miller’s three decades in the 18th tower through special tributes and reflections during third round coverage from the Stadium Course at TPC Scottsdale in Arizona. 

“Johnny Miller has been a fixture in television for generations of golf fans, with his pointed, unfiltered approach and commitment to always calling it like he sees it for the viewer at home,” said Tommy Roy, lead golf producer, NBC Sports. “Sundays on the PGA TOUR are all about crowning a deserving champion, so we’ll offer our reflections and gratitude to Johnny during Saturday’s third round coverage, as we celebrate his revered broadcast career.”

For Miller – a World Golf Hall of Fame member – the event is a fitting one to mark his final broadcast, as a two-time winner of the tournament in 1974-’75, helping to earn him the “Desert Fox” nickname for his success on “desert-style” courses over the course of his playing career.

NBC Sports’ plans to celebrate Miller’s career during Saturday’s third round coverage will center around dedicated tributes, reflections and other elements, including:

  • Anecdotes from PGA TOUR players (past and present) offering perspective on Miller’s impact on the sport and how it’s covered on television.

  • Reflections on Miller from fellow sports broadcasters across the industry.

  • A “thanks for the memories”-style tribute from other NBCUniversal personalities.

  • A special acknowledgment from Dan Hicks, Miller’s broadcast partner since 2000, on the symbolism of the Waste Management Phoenix Open being the analyst’s final broadcast.

  • Retrospective elements from Miller’s broadcast career, including memorable sequences, occasional divisive moments, and other highlights over the past 29 years.

Next week will represent the 20th consecutive (and final) year of Miller and Hicks sitting alongside one another in the broadcast booth, a record for the longest-tenured 18th tower tandem in broadcast golf. NBC Sports Group will carry nearly 20 live hours of tournament coverage from the Waste Management Phoenix Open, Thursday-Sunday, Jan. 31-Feb. 3. During Sunday’s final round broadcast on NBC, the network’s new lead analyst Paul Azinger will join Hicks during the closing stretch of the event, before making his official debut at the WGC-Mexico Championship (Feb. 21-24), where he’ll call all four days of coverage.

Mid-Round Interviews Fail To Take Down Round One Of The Sentry TOC

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The PGA Tour’s request of players to consider on-course, mid-round interviews passed its round one test at the 2019 Sentry TOC, with Patton Kizzire, Dustin Johnson and Marc Leishman all reporting no major side effects from penetrating questioning.

Leishman did, however, hit a poor tee shot at 17 after a chat at 16, but as Ben Everill notes for PGATour.com, the Aussie was not blaming the loss of focus on having a microphone in the vicinity of his lips.

“Nah that was just me, that was just a crap shot,” Leishman joked after his 5-under 68 left him fifth.

“I do (those type of interviews) in Australia every year; I think it's cool as it gives good access for the fans.

“I'm certainly not blaming my bad shot on it as it was walking up to 16 green so it wasn't as though it was right before (that tee shot).

"No one is going to blame an interview if they go birdie, birdie, birdie.”

Oh never rule anything out, Leish!

PGA Tour Revisiting Mid-Round Interviews, Players Sound So Incredibly Not Enthused

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Given that most of the players have little of interest to say after a round or shy away from offering insights for fear of revealing their team’s vaunted trade secrets, I’m not sure this will go very far. Nonetheless, according to Doug Ferguson, the PGA Tour has begun asking players what they think and surprisingly it’s the younger generation sounding resistant.

Justin Thomas? Not so much.

Thomas talks plenty during his round, usually to himself or with caddie Jimmy Johnson. The idea of stopping for a quick interview was not appealing to him.

“I’ve just been asked about it,” he said. “I said, ‘No.’ It’s not me. I do a lot of self-talking. That’s mine and Jimmy’s time, whether we’re talking about whatever, or even the next shot. For me, there’s no benefit. It’s only going to make me look worse.”

I can see Thomas’s point on looking like a young Gregg Popovich since he’s someone who puts on a game face and turns a bit feisty inside the ropes over the course of five hours.

Rory’s view caught me by surprise, however:

“I’ve been approached in Europe because they’ve done it for a couple of years,” McIlroy said. “And I’ve said, ‘No,’ every single time.”

Well, ok then!

Done correctly, an on-course interview can be incredibly charming, especially on Thursdays and Fridays. If anyone has seen or heard one of Tim Barter’s for Sky Sports, you know what I mean.

A couple of samples:

People Still Complain To The FCC About Overheard Golf Course &^$-Bombs

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Nice work by Golf.com’s Josh Berhow to obtain the uptick in FCC complaints over 2018 on-course obscenities. Instagram subscribers to Bob Menery, these are not.

Interestingly it was not Tiger or Justin Thomas but the gentle Xander Schauffele who earned the most complaints for his Open Championship swearing.

“On SUNDAY, my family was treated to a golfer saying the word ‘s—‘ during The Open on NBC Golf,” wrote the viewer from Paradise Valley, Ariz. “Don’t they have a delay to cut that sound out? Seriously, a Sunday morning shouldn’t have programming with indecent language.”

PGA Tour Live On NBC Sports Gold: Christmas Price While Supplies Last!*

PGA Tour Live moves to a new U.S.-only platform in 2019 and purchases before January 20th are $49.99, jumping to $64.99 or $9.99 a month when coverage begins at the Desert Classic.

The package again includes all pre-Golf Channel or pre-network coverage as well as Featured Group coverage until network coverage begins. For those with a cable subscription, the app will be updated to include Golf Channel and NBC coverage for an easy switchover when the events are on the network (see photo above). For CBS weeks, you’ll have to switch over to the CBS or PGA Tour apps.

For Immediate Release below. Most noteworthy is the pledge to have tracer technology on all holes, a huge increase in hours and a lot more featured group coverage:

PGA TOUR LIVE LAUNCHES BIGGER & BETTER PACKAGE ON NBC SPORTS GOLD IN 2019

Now with Four Days of Coverage, PGA TOUR LIVE to Provide Nearly 900 Hours of Premium, Live Tournament Programming, More Than Doubling Total from Last Season

Exclusive Live Coverage of the Best Players in the World From 28 PGA TOUR Events, Including THE PLAYERS & FedExCup Playoffs

PGA TOUR LIVE Now Accessible via Double the Number of Supported Platforms: Roku, Chromecast and More, in addition to Apple TV, and Android and iOS Devices 

PGA TOUR LIVE Season Pass On Sale Now on NBC Sports Gold for Early-Bird Season-Pass Price of $49.99; Regular Price $64.99; Monthly Pass $9.99

ORLANDO & PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FLA.  December 17, 2018 – The PGA TOUR and NBC Sports Group announced that PGA TOUR LIVE, the PGA TOUR’s direct-to-consumer subscription video service that live streams extensive Featured Groups coverage of the best golfers in the world, has been enhanced and is now available for purchase in the United States on NBC Sports GoldNBC Sports Group’s direct-to-consumer live streaming product. PGA TOUR LIVE season passes are on sale now for an early-bird price of $49.99, available through the Desert Classic (Jan 17-20), while a monthly pass can be purchased for $9.99. After January 20, a season pass will cost $64.99.

In 2019, PGA TOUR LIVE will present the most robust service in its history, now with four days of live coverage from 27 PGA TOUR events, new 10-minute “Speed Round” recaps for Featured Groups players, expansive VOD content, and integrated scoring and statistics. It is also available on double the number of supported platforms vs. 2018.

“The demand and growth of PGA TOUR LIVE has been incredible since we launched in 2015,” said Rick Anderson, Chief Media Officer of the PGA TOUR. “In 2019, we are thrilled to announce that our live coverage will be more robust, more accessible and significantly better for subscribers of PGA TOUR LIVE on NBC Sports Gold.”

In 2019, fans can get the gift of an unprecedented amount of PGA TOUR coverage across more platforms than ever before,” said Mike McCarley, President, Golf, NBC Sports Group. “Building upon years of partnership, NBC Sports and the PGA TOUR are enhancing PGA TOUR LIVE by more than doubling the live hours and number of platforms and expanding live coverage from two to four days. Fans will benefit from the addition of PGA TOUR LIVE to NBC Sports Gold.”

A complement to the hundreds of hours of televised PGA TOUR programming, PGA TOUR LIVE will provide exclusive, live Featured Groups coverage during all four days from 27 PGA TOUR events, including THE PLAYERS and FedExCup Playoffs, after kicking off with Thursday-Friday coverage at the Desert Classic on January 17, 2019. New for 2019, PGA TOUR LIVE has expanded Featured Groups coverage on Saturdays and Sundays, beginning at approximately 9 a.m. ET and running until the start of the PGA TOUR’s NBC and CBS coverage windows in the afternoon. Additionally, PGA TOUR LIVE will provide free Featured Holes coverage complementing NBC and CBS broadcasts every weekend.

Through NBC Sports Gold, PGA TOUR LIVE is now on more supported platforms than ever before. In addition to web, iOS, Android and Apple TV, the subscription service is available for the first time on Roku, Chromecast, and more. In July, the PGA TOUR and NBC Sports Group announced a multi-year digital partnership to carry PGA TOUR LIVE on NBC Sports Gold. PGA TOUR Entertainment produces all live coveragefor PGA TOUR LIVE.

PGA TOUR LIVE on NBC Sports Gold includes:

o   870 Hours of Premium, Live Featured Groups Coverage: up from 414 hours last year – including expanded Featured Groups coverage across four days at 27 PGA TOUR events;

o   Integrated Statistical Feeds: users never have to leave the action with integrated live leaderboards and player scorecards;

o   Speed Rounds: fans can get caught up on the day’s action with new condensed rounds from each player in the Featured Groups coverage, allowing them to watch every shot in approximately 10 minutes;

o   Event Recaps: watch an event recap in an hour-long cut down show that highlights the best of that week’s tournament;

o   Expanded Integrated Statistics and Scoring: viewers can explore stats at their fingertips while watching live coverage;

o   Shot Tracing Technology: used for every hole on the golf course;

o   Video On Demand: upon launch, PGA TOUR LIVE will be stocked with the following archival programming: 2018 PLAYERS Official Film; 2018 FedExCup Playoffs Official Film; and 2018 PGA TOUR Rewind of 16 tournaments.

State Of The Game 86: Richard Gillis And The PGA Tour’s Dance With Discovery

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Richard Gillis, sport business writer and consultant joins us to discuss the PGA Tour’s new partnership with Discovery to deliver international audiences GOLFTV, launching in select countries January 1.

Rod Morri, Mike Clayton and yours truly break down the potential ramifications with Gillis, who has joined the pod before upon publication of The Captain Myth, which also comes up in the show.

As always, you can listen wherever podcasts are streamed, download or listen on iTunes, or below:

Big Timer Charlie Rymer Hangs Up His (Studio) IFB

After six years of waking up way too early, Charlie Rymer has dished out his last Watch-And-Learn tip to Morning Drive viewers.

The Forecaddie with the report on Rymer’s final show.

Charlie’s Tweet with some really stellar replies from many in the golf world:

Having had the privilege to work with (and needle) Charlie, I can’t speak highly enough about his knowledge and passion for the game. Furthermore, watching him work and sound-out a segment was always a joy in person, and I’m not sure golf fans realize just how astute of an observer he is. Happy TV trails my friend!

Preview: Exonerated Valentino Dixon Sees His First Golf Course After 27 Years In Prison

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Golf Channel Films is debuting a swiftly but beautifully compiled documentary on the release of Valentino Dixon after 27 years in prison. Dixon, a non-golfer who’d never seen a course, painted famous and imaginary golf holes while passing the time until a group of Georgetown undergrads, Golf Digest’s Max Adler and Golf Channel’s team (including Jimmy Roberts) exposed his story.

The film includes Dixon’s first-ever visit to Pebble Beach, a frequent subject of paintings.

The summary for the film’s Tuesday, December 11 debut at 8 pm ET:

For 27 years, Valentino Dixon had been serving a 33 1/3 years to life sentence in prison for a murder he claims he did not commit. This past September, Dixon was released from prison following a series of events that began with a sketch depicting one of golf’s most iconic holes. Golf Channel’s latest Golf Films project, 27 Years: The Exoneration of Valentino Dixon unravels how Dixon’s drawing ultimately led to newly-discovered evidence pointing toward his innocence, and follows Dixon as he visits picturesque Pebble Beach, the first golf course he’d ever seen in person.

Here is Adler’s recent story on Dixon’s release and the original Digest story.

The preview:

Zaslav On CNBC: "We're trying to create a golf Netflix"*

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Like many stories on Tiger’s new deal with Discovery and the PGA Tour, this interview Discovery CEO David Zaslav glosses over one key element of the Tiger Woods-is-coming-to-your-living room-next-year-narrative: he’s not, if you live in the United States. (At least not on Discovery’s GolfTV, he will be seen on PGA Tour Live, Golf Channel, NBC, CBS and TNT, among others).

Nor is Tiger going to be seen on American screens until 2022 at the earliest as part of this content play that more like the PGA Tour building its own network while wisely consolidating its international presentation, as something looking to satisfy viewers.

More interesting for those on the television side of this story is the increasingly debatable vision of a world where we all watch things on a phone. Zaslav emphasizes repeatedly in this interview with CNBC’s Squawk Box, even holding up his phone twice to highlight his predictable “Netflix” comparison.

Anyone who has watched golf on a phone can tell you that the viewing experience is generally limited since it is not shot for such devices nor can it ever be made compelling as a cell phone product give the length of a round. Then again, maybe this will finally encourage the PGA Tour to do something about slow play!

Conversely, on a large screen golf is brilliant, giving the sport an aesthetic advantage over others. Sponsors pay handsomely to be viewed in as many homes as possible and to have their logos seen as easily as possible, without being obtrusive. The phone push seems to conflict with the needs of sponsors.

Maybe they see a future without the sponsorship model, with golf tournaments bankrolled by streaming fees?

Anyway, check out the interview, if nothing else to hear one particularly incoherent question at the 3:50 mark or so from Andrew Ross Sorkin. The New York Times columnist appears to know no particulars of the Discovery-PGA Tour deal. Zaslav rides it out artfully. That’s why he gets the big bucks.

Here is the full chat with Zaslav:

Tiger appeared after with Zaslav joining the questioning and talked about getting to answer fan questions, including the ones he really wanted to answer after all of the dumb ones the media asks. Ok.

Tiger also speaks of getting to do content on his own terms and bringing “new youngness” to the game.

He also speaks about getting to make direct contact with his fans by putting instruction and content on phones and tablets. Yet again, no mention that this grow the game effort is only outside the United States for the next three years. Seems misleading. But maybe that’s the point?

Tiger Signs Exclusive Partnership With Discovery's GOLFTV

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Lots to chew on here with Tiger Woods signing a content deal with the PGA Tour’s oversees streaming distributor for exclusivity. Given how few homes will be seeing this channel the first few years, he’s signing up for a lot of work here with few eyeballs. But if the Discovery cash spends, then good for him.

Also noteworthy is the PGA Tour sending out this release and working in conjunction with Discovery to broker a deal with a player. Granted, it’s a legend of the game who is deservedly treated differently, but nonetheless intriguing.

For Immediate Release…

Tiger Woods and Discovery’s GOLFTV Announce 
Exclusive, Long-term Global Content Partnership

NEW YORK – In a major development as part of the strategic partnership between Discovery, Inc. and the PGA TOUR, GOLFTV today announced an exclusive multi-year global content partnership with 80-time PGA TOUR winner and 14-time Major champion Tiger Woods.

Starting in January 2019, GOLFTV powered by PGA TOUR, the new global live and on-demand video streaming service jointly developed by Discovery and the TOUR, will collaborate with Woods on a wide range of programming, content creation and storytelling opportunities that will offer fans an authentic and regular look into the life, mind and performance of the game’s ultimate icon.

The GOLFTV partnership will reveal Woods as fans have never seen him before, providing an unparalleled opportunity to get close to Woods’ practice routines, preparation and life on the road through a variety of programming showcased exclusively on GOLFTV. 

At least, fans in other countries. Who like to stream golf coverage. Hope Turner isn’t handling the credit cards! Tiger’s quote is fun:

“I’ve been watching Discovery and David Zaslav build up a global sports platform with Eurosport, the Olympics and the launch of GOLFTV with us at the PGA TOUR, so I think they’re the perfect partner to help grow the game.

Grow the game drinking game success!

“They’re global, they get sports and know how to build new, younger and big audiences. 

It’s about the children!

“It’s a perfect fit and I’m so excited to be a real partner with the Discovery Sports team,” said Woods.  

“I love the vision of GOLFTV and the ambition for it to become the premier destination for golf entertainment worldwide. To have my own platform to communicate is the culmination of a lot of hard work from my team and the team at Discovery. 

Loooooong negotiation!

“We’re going to build content for everyone, whether you’ve been playing golf for a long time or just starting out. I’ll be sharing stories and giving insight into my approach that has never been seen before. This is such an exciting time for golf and for me, so to be part of the vision to grow the game all around the world is fantastic. I can’t wait to share my knowledge on GOLFTV,” he said.

And we can’t wait to hear what people say about it in Russia and Spain! Wait, there’s more. This must be a BIG check.

“I want to talk to golf fans and golfers everywhere, directly, and straight from me. That’s important to me. Talking about what we care about: what’s happening on the course, how to play better, how can I shoot lower scores tomorrow, how can I beat my friends?  David explained how GOLFTV is for the fans and the players, a single place they’ll all want to go, and he’s building something everyone will want,” Woods remarked.

Wow, so much. The fine print:

Among the plans, Woods and GOLFTV are collaborating to develop:

  • Weekly practice and instructional videos to improve your game;

  • Exclusive access into Tiger’s preparation routines;

  • Behind-the-scenes access before and after PGA TOUR rounds;

  • Unique and exclusive post-round commentary,

Another post round interview? Oh yeah, 8 figures!

“Getting the chance to do instruction is exciting.  I’ve always been focused on my own game and this experience can help players everywhere.  Whether you’re a long-time player or a beginner, there are some things that help us all play better.  It’s one way I want to give back to people who love the game like I do.  If I can help the next generation enjoy the game more and play better, that’s pretty special,” Woods concluded.

You know I’ve always thought when Tiger wakes up in the morning, he’s just dying to do instruction videos and not getting the chance!

A first for Woods on video, this content will be exclusively owned by GOLFTV globally, including in the United States, where Discovery has the opportunity to execute an owned or partner distribution strategy.

Interesting wording there.

David Zaslav, President and CEO, Discovery, said: “I am excited to welcome Tiger to the Discovery family and to GOLFTV, a true superstar joining our company of world-class storytellers and brands. At the heart of Discovery is high-quality storytelling, told through the most authentic, credible and trusted voices.  Tiger is the ultimate example of a world-class athlete and cultural figure with whom audiences are enamored, and follow closely around the world. Our global partnership with Tiger is a perfect example of our strategy to collaborate exclusively with top talent to extend global media platforms, and take advantage of our international distribution and technology infrastructure and aggregate audiences and build long-term value.

Whew covered all the key words. An activate would have been nice though.

“With Tiger joining us, I am confident that GOLFTV will be the new gold standard for comprehensive sports streaming, nourishing golf fans when and where they want to consume what they are most passionate about,” Zaslav added.

Nourishing?

This partnership with GOLFTV comes at an ideal time in Woods’ career, on the heels of a comeback season that saw him return to form in spectacular fashion, culminating in a history-making win at the 2018 TOUR Championship in September.

Alex Kaplan, President and General Manager, Discovery Golf, said: “It’s a privilege for us to welcome Tiger to the GOLFTV team. No one else in the game resonates globally the way Tiger does or has the global fan base, and he has great wisdom to share, on and off the course.  We’re thrilled to give him the global platform to do just that, and to provide our audience in more than 200 markets and territories a closer look at Tiger on the greens and behind the scenes.

“Our long-term partnership with Tiger reflects our broader ambition as we roll-out the service over the coming years, seeking to grow GOLFTV into a true ecosystem for all things golf: watching, learning and playing,” Kaplan added.

Ecosystem. Nice.

GOLFTV powered by PGA TOUR will be available to fans starting January 2019*. It will present more than 2,000 hours of live action each year as well as a wide range of premium content on-demand, featuring the sport’s most exciting moments, superstar players and tournaments on every screen and device. Live coverage of the PGA TOUR will be extensive and include THE PLAYERS Championship, the FedExCup Playoffs and the Presidents Cup.

DISCOVERY SPORTS is the global leader in live sports with extensive brands and exclusive partnerships with premium sports and events including: Eurosport and the Eurosport Player, the Olympic Games, the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia, La Vuelta a España, The Championships - Wimbledon, US Open, Roland Garros, Australian Open, ATP Tour, Bundesliga, English Premier League, UEFA Europa League, Eliteserien, PGA TOUR, Six Nations Rugby, FIS Ski World Championships, Moto GP and Formula E to name only a few. 

-ENDS-

*Excludes PGA TOUR rights in the United States.

**He’s really getting a lot of money for this.

Roundup: Before The Match's Aftermath Moves To The Finger-Pointing Phase

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Before the business story engulfs The Matchif the across-the-board refunds haven’t already done so—let’s consider how the promises of a groundbreaking event played out.

Alan Shipnuck at Golf.com says The Match was sold as a spectacle and merely delivered two guys playing golf, which was good enough for many of us to be entertained but a failure based on the marketing message.

It was an exercise in cognitive dissonance. The announcers wouldn’t stop raving about Shadow Creek’s aesthetics but my eyes kept going to the aeration holes on the greens. There was breathless talk about the use of the world’s largest drone for beauty shots but its buzzing was so loud it was a distraction on nearly every shot on the opening holes. I was excited to have the players mic’d up, until Phil’s heavy mouth-breathing and Tiger’s snotty sniffles hijacked the broadcast.

Dan Wetzel at Yahoo says The Match was worse than Caddyshack 2.

There were a few side bets that should have been fun, but this event was so over-marketed and over-sold that it was nearly impossible to believe either was laying their own money on the line. Someone else was going to pick up the closest-to-the-pin bets. On the back nine and the playoff – yes, it went 22 holes — no one bet anything. It was like they were over budget or all the other bets were pre-planned.

The Forecaddie on Turner taking the brunt of the financial losses, not the narrative they were hoping for or the one AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson had in mind when they spent $85 billion on Time Warner.

Dave Shedloski at GolfDigest.com suggested the event went well, with the pay issues caused by overwhelming demand.

WarnerMedia’s B/R Live platform was so inundated with subscribers who waited until the last minute to log in that it had to offer the program free for a limited time until the traffic jam subsided. “We are very encouraged by the initial subscriber numbers,” a smiling Turner President David Levy said as Mickelson and Woods made the turn.

AP’s story on the streaming issues said 500 people were “on hold” at one point trying to get help paying. What that means isn’t clear.

But as Darren Rovell notes, all of those Turner meetings to determine the price for The Match were one giant waste of time after the mass-refund.

Jason Sobel lamented the flashing of cash and also the announce team talking over the sound.

The bigger problem is that the announcing team stepped all over the stars of the show throughout the day.

The whole benefit of Tiger and Phil being mic’d up is that we get to hear their conversations with each other, with their caddies and with the fans. Instead, it felt like every time they opened their mouths, one of the commentators would speak over them.

Rex Hoggard on the PGA Tour helping to undermine The Match by limiting the number of side challenges, which had moments and were for charity. Too many bad cooks in this kitchen!

The playoff hole took a few punches over at Golf.com where the Confidential gang saw plenty of positives too.

Berhow: The drone shots for some of the putts were pretty cool. The banter disappointed (shocker), and deciding this whole thing from a putting green (with teed up golf balls!) to a green just 93 yards away seemed very anticlimactic. Although maybe that ending was strangely fitting.

Kerr-Dineen: The much-hyped “trash talk” was painfully awkward and wholly underwhelming. I was a bit disappointed by the overall on-course commentary, too. It was a bit too straight-and-narrow for the event; I’d have liked to see Barkley more involved in the play-by-play. What was better than I expected? Probably the playoff. Wedging it off a green to another green with $9 million on the line? Bonkers.

Dan Kilbridge on the celebrity scene just outside the ropes. That continued Saturday with a pro-am where Tiger and Phil attended. Lucky them!

John Strege considered the telecast and noted that much of the great sound we heard was natural, inside-the-ropes commentary from the legends taking part.

When Woods chipped in for birdie from the fringe to square the match at 17, he could be heard saying to caddie Joe LaCava, “just like old times, Joey.”

Moments later, Mickelson said to Woods, “I’ve been watching that for 20 years. I didn’t need to watch that now.”

Yet even with a match coming down to the final hole and what evolved into a farcical playoff (teeing it from the putting green in the dark) with $9 million at stake, it was not especially riveting, given the mediocrity from two of the best in history and the time it took them to underperform.

Finally, Dan Kilbridge on the celebrity scene just outside the ropes. That continued Saturday with a pro-am where Tiger and Phil attended after the previous night’s Topgolf after party. Talk about evidence they were both paid the same rate!

Great Read: "How 'The Match' began—and where it might lead"

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Golf World’s Dave Shedloski takes a deep dive into The Match and how the Tiger-Phil event came together. You’ll have to wade through some self-congratulatory stuff and mentions of activations and next-generation deals, but it’s a great read for anyone interested in the anatomy of a deal.

There were also a few details that stood out worth commenting on. Starting with this on the rights fee, which would

No, this will be an intense competition between two rivals—the bitter kind for many years—who have forged a friendship, an alliance and a nameless joint-entity shell company into which cash already is flowing, thanks to the fee WarnerMedia’s Turner paid (much higher than the reported $10 million) for the rights to the more commercially catchy property known as “Capital One’s The Match: Tiger vs. Phil.”

Much higher than $10 million in rights for one day. That’s giving new meaning to loss leader!

The origins of the event surprised me:

The concept for The Match began with a hypothetical question between two Hollywood friends, CAA’s Jack Whigham, the agency’s co-head of motion picture talent, and one of his clients, Bryan Zuriff, a producer whose credits include the film, “Jobs,” and the Showtime series “Ray Donovan.”

Zuriff, a golf enthusiast who was a huge fan of “The Skins Game” that used to occupy Thanksgiving weekend, is that creative type who has a million ideas running through his mind at all hours.

The story ultimately confirms the “franchise” concept in play.

All along the plan has been to create a franchise of high-stakes matches. So, too, is the aspect of players squaring off, said one source, “for a full PGA Tour purse in one-day events.” In other words, taking the tour’s concept of early-round featured pairings to a new level with an immediate payoff.

Woods and Mickelson would own such a series, which Loy said could include the two competing together as teammates. That would have the unmistakable feel of Challenge Golf, the 1960s TV series in which Arnold Palmer and Gary Player were the featured team against a collection of high-profile professionals. “We hope to see other players involved. You might see Phil and Tiger against players at the top of the world rankings, or two players from the same nation,” Loy said. “But, obviously, a lot depends on the pay-per-view numbers. We’re optimistic about it.”

Still comes down to the numbers.

Ernie Johnson Headlines TNT Broadcast Crew For The Match...

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Everyone loves Ernie…in studio.

However, as longtime PGA Championship watchers know, he’s not exactly a fan favorite when doing golf play-by-play. In his defense, most of Johnson golf work consisted of reading a relentless promo slate and sending us to commercials set against the horrid TNT golf theme as we watched the world’s best sweat through their shirts.

But The Match is a TNT show, so he’s the man. Hopefully the emphasis here will be on letting the players, caddies and officials who wear microphones to do most of the entertaining.

Oh and the pre-game show could set a new high for f-bombs in a 30-minute window.

For Immediate Release:

Turner Sports Announces Commentators for Live PPV Coverage of Capital One’s The Match: Tiger vs. Philon Friday, Nov. 23, at 3 p.m. ET 

Sports Emmy Award Winner Ernie Johnson to Call Unprecedented PPV Match with Darren Clarke & Peter Jacobsen, Along with Reporters Natalie Gulbis & Shane Bacon 

Adam Lefkoe to Host The Pre-Match Show Presented by Capital One with Pat Perez, Samuel L. Jackson & Charles Barkley on Friday, Nov. 23, Beginning at 2 p.m. ET 

Turner Sports’ live PPV coverage of Capital One’s The Match: Tiger vs. Phil, the highly-anticipated showdown between the iconic Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, will be led by Sports Emmy Award-winning broadcaster Ernie Johnson providing play-by-play, alongside analysts Darren Clarke – 2011 Open Championship winner –  and NBC Sports/Golf Channel’s Peter Jacobsen, and reporters Shane Bacon and LPGA veteran Natalie Gulbis.  The broadcast team will provide commentary throughout the winner-take-all $9 million match play competition, to be held Friday, Nov. 23, at Noon PT / 3 p.m. ET (suggested retail price of $19.99) from the exclusive Shadow Creek in Las Vegas. 

Additionally, Turner Sports will produce The Pre-Match Show Presented by Capital One – Friday, Nov. 23, at 2 p.m. ET –  offering fans a look inside the preparation of Woods and Mickelson immediately preceding the main event.  The pre-show coverage – including footage of Woods and Mickelson warming up on the putting green and driving range – will be a combination of sports and entertainment. 

Bleacher Report’s Adam Lefkoe will host the one-hour, pre-match show with three-time PGA Tour winner Pat Perez, along with Samuel L. Jackson and Charles Barkley, among other special guests.  The pre-show commentator team will also be integrated into the live event coverage at select moments during the competition.

Live coverage of Capital One’s The Match: Tiger vs. Phil will be distributed via PPV through Turner’s B/R Live (available now for purchase), AT&T’s DIRECTVand AT&T U-verse.  The PPV event will be distributed to other cable, satellite and telco operators including Comcast, Charter, Cox, Verizon and Altice in the U.S. and RogersShaw and Bell in Canada through In Demand and Vubiquity (an Amdocs Company). AT&T is the official 4K sponsor of The Match, which will also be broadcast in 4K High Dynamic Range (HDR) on DIRECTV channel 106 for $29.99*.  Turner International will facilitate the distribution of live PPV access outside the U.S. and Canada.

The Pre-Match Show Presented by Capital One will be available across all pay-per-view carrier platforms, along with wide-ranging distribution available for free to all fans via through simulcasts on the Bleacher Report and B/R Live Facebook (B/RB/R Live), Twitter (B/RB/R Live) and YouTube (B/RB/R Live) social platforms.

In addition to live pay-per-view event coverage, accompanying content distributed across wide-ranging Turner, WarnerMedia and AT&T platforms includes: 

  • HBO Sports and its groundbreaking 18-time Sports Emmy ® Award-winning 24/7 reality franchise, capturing all the excitement leading up to the match, which debuted Nov. 13 and is currently available via VOD, HBO GO and HBO NOW platforms;

  • Bleacher Report and its wildly-popular House of Highlights, which recently surpassed 10 million followers on Instagram, offering comprehensive highlights and behind-the-scenes content;

  • Turner’s TNT televising programming with select content from the event on Saturday, Dec. 8, at 5 p.m. ET.

Holly Sonders' Fox Sports Golf Career Ends

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The golf portion of her contract was not renewed and Holly Sonders is the latest to not make the FOX/USGA cut, reports The Forecaddie.

Unlike Greg Norman’s departure after just one year, I’m saddened that Holly didn’t find a spot on the FOX team given what she gave up at Golf Channel and how popular she was with viewers and those who’ve met her. Here’s hoping she gets back in golf soon.

SNF: Trackman Coming To (Sunday) NFL Kicks!

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Nice to see what most golfers have been wondering about: tracer technology and Trackman numbers on field goals with expansion plans as the season goes.

Best of all, the number we’ve always wanted to know will be shared: how far a kick would have flown had the net not stopped the ball.

SNF Kicks -- Using TrackMan Technology -- Maps Field Goal Attempts, Kick Trajectory, Football Speed & Projected Kick Distance  

STAMFORD, Conn. – October 25, 2018 –  NBC Sports this weekend will debut television’s first-ever field goal “tracer” on Sunday Night Football, as the New Orleans Saints (5-1) visit the Minnesota Vikings (4-2-1) in a meeting of first-place NFL teams, and a rematch of their memorable 2017 NFC Divisional Playoff. 

The new SNF Kicks Tracer – an element of SNF Kicks – can map the flight of the football on all field goal attempts. The SNF Kickstechnology will provide additional data including trajectory, speed of the football, and a “good from” statistic which indicates the furthest distance from which a made field goal attempt would have been successful. The SNF Kicks “good from” metric will be utilized for madefield goal attempts of 45-or-more yards, as this is the distance at which kickers typically put more power behind their kicks, making the maximum length measurement more applicable.

Using TrackMan technology – utilized and popularized in a longtime partnership with NBC Sports/Golf Channel golf coverage – SNF Kicks determines “good from” on field goal attempts by tracking the football from when it is kicked until the ball hits the net. The full flight measurement along with advanced modeling techniques determines the maximum distance the kick would have been good from, based on both distance and direction (any hook or slice). 

“As we continue to use the most cutting-edge technology to enhance our Sunday Night Football broadcast, we are excited to add the tracer to our coverage,” said Fred Gaudelli, executive producer of SNF. “With many games coming down to field goals, this new element will illustrate the flight of the football, while also providing many statistics pertinent to the kicking game. And field goals are only the beginning. By the end of the season, we hope to be showcasing the technology on kickoffs and punts, and eventually make our way to the passing game.” 

Azinger! NBC/Golf Channel Introduces New Analyst

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Paul Azinger hit the airwaves and the teleconference lines to discuss his new role as NBC’s lead golf analyst replacing Johnny Miller.

Here is the full release announcement from G.C. Digital.

Steve DiMeglio reports on Azinger’s excitement over getting to call Tiger Woods’ comeback.

The most interesting reveal of the day came on Morning Drive when Azinger confirmed what was long suspected: he lobbied for a Ryder Cup return gig after the victorious 2008 gig. Rex Hoggard reports for GolfChannel.com.

As The Forecaddie notes, there were a few surprises in the volume of events and other non-tournament moments the 1993 PGA Champion will work.

Azinger at the table with Gary and Damon on Morning Drive today:

"GOLFTV Powered By The PGA Tour" Is Launched For Eight Countries

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The PGA Tour and Discovery have partnered for all international streaming coverage but due to existing deals, it’s going to be a five year rollout of the newly branded GOLFTV Powered By The PGA Tour. The UK and Sweden, for instance, won’t be able to live under par until 2022 (see other rollout dates above).

The press release is heavy on self congratulatory praise for the “distinctive” brand, but without any mention of star talent signed to helm the coverage or a compelling story to share with all but eight countries. Golf having its Netflix, as the cable cutters hoped, seems a long ways off still. At least to Americans.

NEW YORK - Discovery and the PGA TOUR have today revealed GOLFTV, powered by the PGA TOUR, the distinctive brand for the destination that will unite the community of golf fans around the world.  The brand will underpin the new live and on-demand international video streaming service, which will launch globally outside the United States* on Jan. 1, 2019.

GOLFTV will offer fans a one-stop destination to access the widest range of golf content.  With a growing portfolio of content, it will feature many of the sport’s most exciting moments, superstar players and tournaments on every screen and device.

Serving golf fans with an enhanced experience to both entertain and inform, GOLFTV will present more than 2,000 hours of live action each year as well as extensive premium content on-demand.   Live coverage* will include the six Tours operating under the PGA TOUR umbrella and nearly 150 tournaments annually - including THE PLAYERS Championship, the FedExCup Playoffs and the Presidents Cup.

Alex Kaplan, President and General Manager, Discovery Golf, said: “Our long-term goal is to create a must-have experience that truly enhances the way global fans watch, play and engage with the game every day.  Unveiling the new GOLFTV brand is an exciting next step in our journey.

“Building on Discovery’s heritage of real-life storytelling and direct-to-consumer platform experience, we’ve already established a world-class GOLFTV team.  With work well underway, our carefully considered plans will allow us to continually enhance GOLFTV as we roll-out and further develop the product.”

The launch of the GOLFTV brand follows the pioneering strategic alliance between Discovery and the PGA TOUR, announced in June.  In addition to the GOLFTV service, the 12-year alliance will manage the PGA TOUR’s international multi-platform rights including linear TV rights.

Discovery is already working to execute on a robust distribution and broadcast partner strategy for the portfolio, optimizing reach across free-to-air, pay-TV and digital, and will explore partnering with existing PGA TOUR and golf broadcasters to continue to grow the game.  Live PGA TOUR coverage will become available via GOLFTV in line with the market-by-market rights activation date (see below).