Every Shot, Live On-Demand To Debut At 2020 Players

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The PGA Tour says in today’s release that the newly-announced every shot, “live on-demand” is the eventual goal for all golf coverage. Bold!

In conjunction with NBC Sports Gold, the tour will roll out the first attempt at the 2020 Players, just weeks prior to the Masters, where a slightly tape-delayed on-demand debuted in 2019 with mostly great success (things were rough at the start and some shots never were captured).

The technology and concept is undoubtedly exciting, but it does the raise the question": how people will watch golf going forward. Given the length of a round, the number of variables involved and the slow nature of the sport, the act of sitting down to watch one or two groups go about their round, minus announcing and other storytelling elements, seems like a big ask. Perhaps those who have fantasy pool or waging implications at stake will pay for the privilege, as will family and friends of players.

The technology seems far more compelling in the Presidents Cup or WGC Dell Match Play, where such formats make you want to follow the mini-dramas within a match. But even then, you need announcing and other production elements to make for compelling viewing.

Anyway, For Immediate Release:

PGA TOUR, and NBC Sports Group announce live streaming of every shot during THE PLAYERS Championship in 2020

Marks the first time ever fans can follow every shot by every player live 

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FLORIDA – For the first time ever in golf, every shot by every player will be live-streamed from a full-field tournament when THE PLAYERS Championship returns to TPC Sawgrass, March 12-15, allowing fans to follow any player in the elite field, all four rounds.  All of this revolutionary coverage will be available to PGA TOUR LIVE subscribers on either NBC Sports Gold or Amazon Prime Video Channels.

“The PGA TOUR is the most content-rich sport on the planet and we have been focused on expanding the amount of content we bring to our fans from our competitions,” said Rick Anderson, Chief Media Officer for the TOUR.  “Our vision is to bring every shot in every PGA TOUR golf tournament live and on-demand to our fans, and this is the first step to making that happen.”

PGA TOUR Entertainment and NBC Sports Group will accomplish the monumental task of showcasing more than 32,000 shots over 72 holes from a starting field of 144 – live – by utilizing nearly 120 cameras positioned throughout THE PLAYERS Stadium Course, with each group having its own dedicated stream.

“Every shot of THE PLAYERS on PGA TOUR LIVE is a natural next step in the innovative partnership between NBC Sports and the PGA TOUR that spans nearly 60 years,” said Mike McCarley, president, GOLF, NBC Sports Group. “Super-serving golf fans with more comprehensive coverage of THE PLAYERS is emblematic of our commitment to elevating this championship and builds upon our success in adding enhancements to PGA TOUR LIVE on NBC Sports Gold.” 

PGA TOUR LIVE already has expanded its coverage for the 2019-20 PGA TOUR Season by adding early round featured groups coverage from seven events between September and December. This includes, for the first time ever, live streaming of “featured matches” all four days of competition from the upcoming Presidents Cup at The Royal Melbourne Golf Club in Australia (December 12-15, 2019).

All told, approximately 140 hours of additional live content is available, bringing more than 1,100 total hours to subscribers and extending live content across each month of the calendar year. With NBC Sports Gold and Prime Video Channels being available on dozens of connected devices such as Amazon Fire TV, Roku, Apple TV, and Chromecast, connected device consumption has spiked to about one-third of total minutes in 2019.

Further, the PGA TOUR will be launching an all-new TOURCast product that will allow fans to follow every shot from each group with a beautiful 3D rendering of the golf course and shot trails.  The new TOURCast platform will also include deep access to the PGA TOUR’s ShotLink powered by CDW data, as well as video clips of every single shot available for fans to see, on demand.  The launch of TOURCast at THE PLAYERS will mark the start of every event in the PGA TOUR Season through the FedExCup Playoffs being offered on the platform. TOURCast will be available on the PGA TOUR’s mobile apps and website.  

“Since the launch of PGA TOUR LIVE four years ago, fans have consistently asked when they would be able to watch every shot of every player's round live as it happens.  We are thrilled to be able to do this for the first time at THE PLAYERS Championship in 2020,” said Luis Goicouria, the TOUR’s Senior Vice President of Media.  “THE PLAYERS Championship has long been the tournament where the TOUR debuts the newest technology, including LIVE@ 17, our first Virtual Reality experience, and the PGA TOUR Augmented Reality iPhone app, just to name a few.”

TOURCast, which originally launched in 2003 as a state-of-the-art graphical scoring platform that provided unprecedented tournament coverage, won an Emmy in 2005. “We’re very excited to bring back a greatly enhanced version of it to a new generation of fans, utilizing the latest technology and data,” Goicouria added.

From the historic competition to an iconic golf course with an unparalleled fan experience, THE PLAYERS is uncompromising in its pursuit to deliver the best. The 144-player field represents the strongest collection of players assembled each season, competing on Pete Dye’s masterpiece, THE PLAYERS Stadium Course, that favors no single style of play and demands excellence in every facet of the game.

THE PLAYERS also was the first tournament conceived with the fan as its focal point. From the original design incorporating viewing mounds, to embracing change to deliver the best experience in the modern game, THE PLAYERS provides the highest expression of hospitality and entertainment. Morgan Stanley, Grant Thornton LLP and Optum are the exclusive Proud Partners of THE PLAYERS.

Lee Westwood Scores The First Hole-In-One Captured By Plane Tracer

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Definitely a first! And what a fantastic look given how tight the shot was to the ball.

From round one of the Alfred Dunhill Links, Lee Westwood making an ace at Carnoustie’s 8th hole.

Awkward Alert: Romo Opens Strong In Napa; A Made Cut Will Interrupt His CBS Work Sunday

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In a contract year with CBS and rebelliously teeing it up during all-important NFL regular season, former Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo opened the Safeway Open with a 70, his best PGA Tour round by far.

The possibility of a made cut has him potentially playing the weekend and missing his Vikings-Bears NFL assignment with Jim Nantz.

According to the New York Post, Boomer Esiason is slated to replace Romo.

While this is an awkward situation for CBS given Romo’s popularity as a broadcaster and his obvious passion to play golf over watch film of the Bears, imagine how the 74 PGA Tour pros who were beat by Romo feel? Granted, the field includes a few retreads and folks you didn’t know have tour status, but Romo’s T28 position has him well ahead of several major winners.

From Adam Schupak’s Golfweek report in Napa:

That would prevent him from doing his day job commentating for CBS Sports on the Chicago Bears-Minnesota Vikings game on Sunday.

“It’s a good problem to have,” Romo said with a smile.

Romo is playing this week as the lone amateur in the 144-man field, and had players buzzing about his round.

“It’s bloody impressive,” said Adam Scott, who held a share of the lead after shooting 65. “I ain’t ever going to throw a pass in the NFL, that’s for sure, so I think it’s unbelievable that he can do that.”

Romo tees off at 1:25 Pacific, putting him in a good portion of Golf Channel’s broadcast window.

SBJ: Pitchtime In Ponte Vedra For Network Executives

Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand reports in great detail that some network heavyweights are descending on Ponte Vedra Beach to make initial PGA Tour, Champions, Tour, Korn Ferry Tour and LPGA Tour media rights pitches.

Ourand lays out the schedule to include sessions with Warnermedia chairman Jeff Zucker and Turner Sports head Lenny Daniels, CBS’s Sean McManus and David Berson, ESPN’s Jimmy Pitaro and Burke Magnus (EVP programming), Eric Shanks and president Mark Silverman from Fox Sports, Amazon’s Marie Donoghue and Jim DeLorenzo, with NBC Sports Group President Pete Bevacqua and Golf Channel President Mike McCarley helming Comcast’s effort.

With the NFL’s timing in limbo, Ourand notes the PGA Tour’s desire to wrap things up by year’s end comes with risk.

The tour is coming to market after a year that saw weekend television viewership (excluding the majors) drop considerably. NBC’s weekend coverage was down 18% this season; CBS’s was down 10%.

The looming NFL rights negotiation also could have an effect on these negotiations. All the networks are prepared to pay a lot more to keep the NFL when its rights come up in 2021 and 2022. The risk is that the prospect of those rights could keep networks from committing as much money as the PGA Tour is hoping for.

(The Athletic’s Daniel Kaplan filed an update on the NFL’s proposed plans which now focus on a 17-game schedule and other elements that might take their schedule into late February if the season begins in the traditional post-Labor Day period, including an extra playoff game and an added bye week.)

Ourand says the number of bidders is working in the PGA Tour’s favor in spite of a ratings drop.

AT&T has told tour officials that it has looked into flipping one of its existing channels (Headline News or truTV) into a golf channel that would pick up the rights that currently are on Golf Channel. It’s likely that AT&T would offer the PGA Tour a stake in that channel.

ESPN is expected to make an aggressive pitch centered on streaming rights for its ESPN+ platform. CBS has carried PGA Tour rights since 1970 and wants to maintain that relationship. Finally, NBC has built a healthy business around PGA Tour rights, like Golf Channel and GolfNow, and is expected to be aggressive in trying to keep them.

Notably absent from the meetings: Discovery and its GOLFTV Powered by the PGA Tour, aka golf Netflix.

Not Surprisingly, Michelle Wie's Got A Future In TV

As compelling as the Solheim Cup final day was, the week was also marked by Michelle Wie’s start in television.

I would agree with the Forecaddie that it’s not a huge shock given her Stanford degree and communications experience since the age of 12 or so, but it’s still another thing to be thrown onto a set with bright lights and captain’s decisions to dissect. Wie not only did that smoothly, but had not problem questioning Juli Inkster’s Sunday singles lineup.

Wrapping Up Last Season Before Next Season Starts (Thursday): 2018 v. 2019 PGA Tour Ratings Comparison

Robopz calls him/herself “anonymous 3rd-tier 4th estate type” but did some nice work trying to compare 2018 PGA Tour ratings vs. 2019. While the overall number was slightly down and a few events took steep plunges due to date change or a Tiger presence, overall a flat number these days is good news.

While golf is expensive to broadcast and the demographic isn’t as gullible and hooked on its phones as the coveted M’s, it still delivers a lot to sponsors, fans and beats airing informercials (I would hope).

Anyway, give him/her a follow here as you’ll find some other fun stats and info. You can click on the images to see them better:

Video: Bodenheimer Recalls Arnie's Iconic Sportscenter Promo

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As part of ESPN’s 40th anniversary celebration, former president George Bodenheimer is interviewed about Arnold Palmer’s ESPN visit to shoot the iconic, icea-tea-and-lemonade mixing “This is SportsCenter” commercial also featuring the late Stuart Scott and Scott Van Pelt. Of course Arnold delivered the greatest of all Sportscenter ads, though oddly I found this one flat the first few times. But, like most great masterpieces, it’s the repeat viewings revealing the genius behind them!

Nantz On Whitaker: "He had a unique ability to blend peak thought with context in perfect prose."

What a grand tribute from Jim Nantz to his friend and mentor Jack Whitaker.

The Athletic kindly made this available to non-subscribers and it’s well worth your time, even if you are of a vintage that does not recall the days of Whitaker and the ABC golf team.

He first met Whitaker at Pebble Beach when his roommate that week, Bob Drum—oh that Chirkinian humor!—took Nantz down to Club XIX for a nightcap. It was a somber day after the space shuttle Challenger had exploded earlier in the day:

Upon entering the restaurant, there was Jack Whitaker, leaning against the bar, a martini filled to the top, perfectly poured. He had on a tweed jacket with a turtleneck underneath and he was just the personification of elegance, a man well-traveled. I honestly could not believe I was shaking his hand, feeling as though I had just been introduced to Ernest Hemingway.

His short essays often concluded the biggest sporting events around the world, and he had a unique ability to blend peak thought with context in perfect prose. Though there were no words that could soften the shocking horror of the day, Jack, with his gift, was somehow able to bring some solace and perspective to an otherwise unexplainable event.

The Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame tribute piece has now been added to YouTube:

More Reads On The Late Jack Whitaker

My original post was here but some wonderful tributes have rolled in to celebrate the life, work and times of Jack Whitaker.

Frank Fitzpatrick of Whitaker’s home town Philadelphia Inquirer with a sensational remembrance, including this:

As one of sports broadcasting’s first and best essayists, Whitaker, who died Sunday at 95, introduced elegance and erudition into the genre. His work was infused by a broad vocabulary, a tweedy wardrobe, and a thoughtful demeanor.

But while he added a professorial air to decades’ worth of telecasts from Super Bowls, Masters, Olympics and Kentucky Derbys, the Germantown native never forgot that he once stood before a camera dressed like a gunslinger.

“It wasn’t my finest hour,” Whitaker told the Inquirer in 2007, “but you did what you had to do and you hoped it made you better.”

 Richard Goldstein filed another superb New York Times obituary, writes:

But he was perhaps best known for his essays about sports, inspired by writers he admired like Alistair Cooke and Heywood Hale Broun. He received an Emmy in 1979 as “outstanding sports personality” and a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Sports Emmy Awards in 2012. “I know that I’m regarded as The Talking Head,” he told Sports Illustrated in 1977. “I’d like to be exactly that and say something that people will remember or get excited about. I’d like to bring sports into the thinking process.”

Bill Goodykoontz of the Arizona Republic respected Whitaker’s talent as a writer, but he said the combination of that talent with his voice prompted him to wonder if we’ve lost one of the last broadcasting icons:

But, like with most broadcasters, it was his voice that mattered most, in tone and in authority. 

Dick Enberg had one, too. So did Vin Scully, who’s still alive but stopped calling baseball games in 2016.

Who are the voices who will take their place? Not as announcers, whether calling a came or providing analysis.

Who will replace them as icons? Anyone?

We discussed Whitaker this morning on Morning Drive.

Overnights: 2019 BMW A 2.4, U.S. Amateur At Pinehurst A .3

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According to Sports Business Daily, the 2019 BMW Championship drew a 1.9 Saturday audience and a 2.4 for Sunday’s final round on NBC, well up over non-Tiger-contending Wyndham Championship’s previously played in this schedule spot. The 2018 Wyndham drew a 1.9.

The slide in US Amateur interest and visibility continued with a .4 Saturday and a .3 for Sunday’s finale on Fox going head-to-head with most of the BMW final round. Talk about an event screaming out for a change in its Monday to Sunday format to avoid being an afterthought.

Two notes on the audiences from Tunity regarding the BMW final and first rounds:

R.I.P. Jack Whitaker

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One of the voices most closely associated with televised golf, Jack Whitaker was a World War II veteran, essayist and voice of genuine authority in sports broadcasting. His career spanned decades in multiple sports, including the first Super Bowl, Wide World of Sports and legions of Triple Crown races.

But his work in golf is how most of us knew him and grew to expect his presence, as no event was complete without a Whitaker essay.

In golf his work started with CBS at the Masterswith a brief Clifford Roberts induced break—and then as a huge part of ABC’s glory years with Jim McKay, Dave Marr, Bob Rosburg, Peter Alliss, Judy Rankin and others, followed by many more years handling Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf’s reboot, he lent a gravitas like few others in all of broadcasting.

A major influence on some of sports’ most authoritative voices, Whitaker’s life is captured in this CBS obituary by Brian Pascus. The story includes this remembrance from his friend, understudy and Sports Broadcasting HOF inductor, Jim Nantz.

“When I first met Jack Whitaker in 1986 at Pebble Beach, I felt like I had just been introduced to Ernest Hemingway," Nantz said. "I grew up watching him deliver contemplative and contextual prose with his famous short essays, bringing class and dignity to his industry. He was enormously proud to have called Super Bowl I for CBS and was the last surviving network commentator from that landmark game. I spoke to him this week after hospice came to his home and his mind was still brilliantly sharp right to the end."

From Rich Lerner:

His Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame page with Nantz’s induction speech and tribute film narrated by Brent Musburger. A must watch!

He most recently could be heard playing the role of A.W. Tilinghast in this 2019 feature for Golf Channel.

A few things to sample since the YouTube offerings are slim, starting with this interview:

And here’s a little later career work on Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf:

PGA Tour Exec: "It’s not an easy thing to consider leaving Comcast, but it’s also not an insurmountable one.”

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On top of the original July 29 story by John Ourand and John Lombardo detailing the possible ways a new PGA Tour television/digital deal may play out, a second and more pointed column from Ourand appeared on August 5th. I’m presuming the quotes from this were in the original interview, though the tone of this column is decidedly more incumbent-friendly than the original piece.

Ourand predicts that it will take “a significant bid to convince the tour to turn away from” the Golf Channel, NBC and parent company Comcast.

But it’s the quote from the PGA Tour exec in charge of shaping the new deal that will interest (or concern) fans and viewers.

“It’s not simple,” Rick Anderson, the PGA Tour’s executive vice president of global media, told SBJ golf writer John Lombardo and me recently. “Comcast has built an entire multibillion-dollar linear channel with our programming. They are phenomenal in terms of their production of golf, and they have a strength of position in the game. Changing that and walking away from that and leaving them will not be easy. It would be the hardest path. It would be a lot easier to talk about doing a renewal instead of going to the market … It’s not an easy thing to consider leaving Comcast, but it’s also not an insurmountable one.”

Phenomenal but not insurmountably so.

As for the viewer appetite to stream golf, Anderson believes the audience wants more digital streaming, even if means watching a guy take over two minutes to hit a six foot putt and paying for the privilege.

“The digital platform is as big an opportunity as the linear channel,” Anderson said. “We know that our opportunity extends beyond the current business model of cable and a linear channel. We can build a real digital platform that has content that people will pay for and in a different way than any other sport can do.”

Anderson said the tour’s available package has more than enough content, particularly Thursday through Sunday with the PGA Tour, LPGA, PGA Tour Champions and Korn Ferry tours.

“The landscape that I see with those big deals is definitely a linear channel, but then an extremely robust digital platform where you really could almost literally go and watch golf on a 24-7 basis,” Anderson said.

I continue to have a hard time seeing more than friends and family paying significant chunks of change for a more robust PGA Tour Live on top of all other streaming or cable subscriptions.

Maybe the folks doing this negotiation will be inspired by Disney’s brilliant, trend-bucking bundle announced last week and pricing of its new combined Disney/ESPN+/Hulu and give golf fans the chance to buy a one-stop place for all of this content at a fair price.

Brooks And Brandel A (Lighter) Sparring Item Again

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I’ve missed these two lovebirds chirping at one another, so naturally Brandel Chamblee had to go and pick on Brooks Koepka displaying improper etiquette by standing ahead of Rory McIlroy during their Northern Trust round.

While Bryson v. Brooks could have turned ugly Sunday—it did not but gave Eamon Lynch a fantastic start to a slow play column—I still have hope for eternal sniping between Brooks and Golf Channel’s Chamblee.

Josh Berhow of Golf.com pieces together the latest manspat, this time Chamblee trying to suggest walking ahead was a greater breach of etiquette than a slow player.

Team Koepka alerted their man, who replied on Twitter (above) with a little less bite than some of other recent jabs back at Chamblee, which date back to the Masters when Chamblee questioned Koepka’s toughness and quality of his major wins.

Despite The Leaderboard, Final WGC Fed Ex St. Jude Ratings Tumble Hard

The schedule in 2020 will stick the new Minnesota stop in the slot after The Open, so maybe this is an aberration. But given the quality of the leaderboard (Brooks Koepka/Rory McIlroy final pairing), the final ratings for the WGC FedEx St. Jude were not good.

Paulsen from SportsMediaWatch attempted to compare them to both the old WGC Bridgestone (played in August) and the FedEx St. Jude Classic’s ratings (June). And the new WGC FedEx still fell shy of those events.

Last Sunday’s final round of the PGA Tour/WGC-St. Jude Invitational averaged a 1.6 rating and 2.31 million viewers on CBS, down 30% in ratings and 33% in viewership from last year (2.3, 3.45M), and down 11% and 13% respectively from 2017 (1.8, 2.66M). The 1.6 rating is the lowest for final round coverage of the event — previously the Bridgestone Invitational — since 2012 (1.3).

Numbers for pre-coverage on Golf Channel were also way down from the event’s ratings in the August/Bridgestone slot.

PGA Tour Expediting TV Rights Deal To Avoid NFL, Believes Golf Needs A Second "Linear Channel"

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I got a chance to read the longer version of John Ourand and John Lombardo’s SBD piece on the PGA Tour rights fees and beyond the summarized version I posted about yesterday.

There were several interesting nuggets shared by Rick Anderson, who will head the Tour’s negotiations.

Ourand and Lombardo call the timing “aggressive” given that it could create an awkward situation with existing partners for two full seasons. Or…

If the PGA Tour signs new deals with CBS and NBC, it will be able to add new features two years early. If it moves on from CBS and NBC, the tour believes that it will need those two years to develop a new channel and digital presence.

Another reason for the tour to move early is to take advantage of an overheated media rights market before the NFL comes in and takes over a sizable piece of that market. The NFL’s deals are up in 2021 and 2022, and all indications are that the $5.5 billion of linear TV rights deals that the league collects annually will see a huge increase. 

The NFL is also pushing hard to expand its season deeper into February, which could impact who might be interested in fall or west coast events.

The Tour also seems to believe there is a need for a lot more golf on television, including options to pay for the privilege of seeing every shot from every player if someone chooses to:

Anderson said he is looking for one or, potentially, two linear channels. He pointed to the content it has from the PGA Tour, LPGA, PGA Tour Champions and Korn Ferry tours as evidence that the tour has enough content to fill two channels.

“When you start talking about capturing every player and every shot, the digital platform is where that would come to light,” he said. “We know that our opportunity extends beyond the current business model of cable and a linear channel. We can build a real digital platform that has content that people will pay for and in a different way than any other sport can do.”

I’m thinking you could call it PGA Tour Live. Just a thought!

It will be fascinating to see how many streaming services believe they can sell subscriptions with golf as part of their package. It’s hard to see HBO Max and ESPN+ feeling that adding golf will be that final piece getting someone to pay $20 a month.

In sizing up the bidders, SBD’s assessments beyond the expected interest of CBS, NBC and Golf Channel featured surprising notes, presumably shared with them by Anderson:

Discovery

Discovery signed a 12-year, $2 billion deal for the PGA Tour’s international rights. It paid $30 million to $35 million for Golf Digest this spring. But Discovery has not showed interest in the tour’s U.S. rights.

What happened to Netflix for golf on our phones? Oh right, when you’ve got to cover the CEO’s absurd compensation package, it’s hard to start a new channel.

ESPN

Much of ESPN’s interest revolves around its streaming service ESPN+. But new President Jimmy Pitaro has expressed interest in the PGA Tour’s linear rights, too.

Don’t count out ABC, where golf’s demographic actually would watch in numbers that sponsors care about.

Fox

Sources say Fox is not interested in a big PGA Tour package, but the tour hopes it will want tournaments around the U.S. Open to help streamline its production and sales processes around the sport.

The new U.S. Women’s Open date rules out the Memorial going to Fox two weeks out from the men’s U.S. Open, meaning an RBC Canadian or Rocket Mortgage could be in their future?

WarnerMedia

WarnerMedia has showed a lot of interest. Last week, AT&T’s Randall Stephenson said he is in the market for live sports rights for the company’s planned direct-to-consumer streaming service HBO Max. PGA Tour rights would fit that bill.

And since he gets to have a say as part of the PGA Tour Policy Board, you have to like his chances.

SBD: AT&T May Be Willing To Flip Headline News Or TruTV Into A Golf Network As Part Of PGA Tour Bid

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That and other nuggets appear in John Ourand’s first significant Sports Business Daily story on the upcoming PGA Tour television rights chase.

The headline grabber: WarnerMedia, a subsidiary of AT&T looking to expand its sports offerings on their HBO Max app and on its various channels, is willing to create a new golf channel.

Given that AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson is on the PGA Tour Policy Board with oversight of the next TV contract, common sense says his company would seem to have an inside track if it bids. Then again, his company has received one of the worst dates on the PGA Tour just weeks after the Masters and the week prior to the PGA Championship. Tony Romo was the major draw this year.

In recent months, AT&T has been dealing with debt-reduction as its primary focus though that appears to not be a major issue.

It was WarnerMedia that most recently was responsible for 2018’s The Match as a test case for sports gambling, synergy and golf. Reviews were mixed, with a massive pay-per-view payment disaster, live drones that didn’t work and a sense that the intersection of golf gambling and television has a ways to go.

Ourand writes of other negotiation notes:

During its initial conversations with media companies, the PGA Tour has made it clear that it wants to control its own linear TV channel. NBC execs have discussed letting the Tour take an ownership stake in the NBC-owned Golf Channel, which has carried the Tour’s cable TV rights exclusively for the past 13 years. WarnerMedia owns channels like HLN (Headline News), which has distribution in 86.3 million U.S. homes, or truTV, which is in 84.1 million homes. Those two would be the most likely channels to be flipped if the company follows through on its initial plan.

And this on the timing, which sounds as if it’s on a fast track to be decided sooner than later.

Even though two years remain on its current U.S. deals, the PGA Tour will invite media companies to deliver formal pitches in the coming weeks. The Tour already has held informal talks with the incumbent networks, as well as others like Amazon, ESPN, Fox and WarnerMedia. The Tour hopes to have a new media-rights deal in place by the end of the year.

1.8 Overnight For WGC FedEx St. Jude, 0.6 For Senior Open

Austin Karp reports on ratings from the weekend where the good news for golf was that it led the way with a 1.8 final round rating for the WGC FedEx St. Jude. The bad news? There was nothing of note in the way of network sports programming and sponsor FedEx did not get the eyeballs their predecessor enjoyed for the premium WGC experience.

A week later last year and then the WGC Bridgestone, the 2018 event drew a 2.5 final round rating.

The Senior Open won by Bernhard Langer drew a .5 and .6 respectively on NBC.

From Tiger To Shane: Open Championship Overnights Down 42%

Big lead, no Tiger making his first run at a major in years and what do you get? A 2.9 for NBC and ratings decline for the 2019 Open Championship.

From SBD’s Austin Karp:


.84: Open Rating Round One Best In Four Years, 55.1 Million Minutes Streamed

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Tiger playing late enough for the east and west coast to enjoy him certainly helped, but overall interest appears solid for the 2019 Open at Royal Portrush. So far at least.

For Immediate Release:

BEST OVERNIGHT RATING IN FOUR YEARS FOR

THURSDAY’S OPENING ROUND OF THE 148TH OPEN 

Opening Round Earns Highest One-Day Streaming Total for NBC Sports

at The Open, 55.1 Million Minutes (+48% YoY) Across All Platforms

PORTRUSH, Northern Ireland, (July 19, 2019) – Thursday’s opening round coverage of The 148THOpen on GOLF Channel was the highest-rated opening round at The Open since 2015. Coverage averaged a .84 Overnight rating for the eight-hour telecast (8A-4P ET), up 6% vs. 2018, and it becomes the highest-rated opening round at The Open on GOLF Channel (2016-’19).

Opening round coverage peaked with a 1.0 rating from 11:15-11:45 a.m. ET. Early coverage of the opening round (1:30-8A ET) earned a .33 Overnight rating, +22% year-over-year (.27), and also becomes the best Overnight for early opening round coverage of The Open on GOLF Channel (2016-’19).

Golf Central Live From The Open (4-5P ET, .41) becomes the highest Overnight rating for any Thursday hour of Golf Central Live From (other than Thursday at the 2019 Masters) since Thursday at The Open in 2018 at Carnoustie. Thursday Total Day (6A-3A ET, .47) is GOLF Channel’s highest Total Day Overnight rating since Friday of The Open in 2018 at Carnoustie (7/20/18, 6A-3A, .51).

Opening round coverage also earned the highest one-day streaming total on record for NBC Sports at The Open (2016-’19). Thursday’s coverage saw 55.1 million minutes streamed across all platforms (+48% vs. 2018), including marquee groups, complementary feeds and on www.TheOpen.com (U.S.)

Golf’s original championship made its highly-anticipated return to Northern Ireland for the first time in 68 years on Thursday at Royal Portrush Golf Club. Live second round coverage continues Friday on GOLF Channel until 4 p.m. ET. Early coverage of the third and final rounds will begin on GOLF Channel on Saturday-Sunday, before shifting to NBC for the majority of play, tracking those at the top of the leaderboard as they attempt to earn the distinction of “Champion Golfer of the Year”.

New 3M Open Takes A Ratings Dip Over Comparable Week, Perhaps Fueled By AT&T Dispute

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It was an auspicious kick off to the new 3M Open with a thrilling final round headlined by Matthew Wolff’s last hole eagle to top Bryson DeChambeau’s last hole eagle, but some reported affiliates signing off as the event ran long. Others noted an AT&T satellite dispute with that meant coverage on at all for many.

Paulsen at Sports Media Watch compares ratings with last year’s 2018 Greenbrier Classic, now a fall event. He also notes pretty steady early round numbers and a nice increase over the 2019 Rocket Mortgage event’s ratings.