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.

Will AT&T's Debt Slashing Ways Preclude A Lucrative PGA Tour Bid?

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That’s the question on some minds as the PGA Tour nears the end of its current television contracts in 2021 and looks to potentially line up suitors for both broadcast and cable rights.

AT&T, with golf-loving CEO Randall Stephenson, who also sits on the PGA Tour Policy Board, is believed to have an interest in a major investment, even potentially turning a current channel acquired from Time Warner into a standalone sports or golf network.

But Nabila Ahmed, Eben Novy-Williams and Scott Moritz write for Bloomberg, a sale of its regional sports networks appears all about reducing debt after $180 billion in acquisitions of DirecTV and Time Warner.

A sale of the regional sports networks -- known as must-see content for avid fans -- highlights AT&T’s ongoing struggle to fix a debt-heavy balance sheet. The company, which has to spend money on a number of priorities, including an expansion of its 5G wireless network, has been financially handcuffed after amassing more than $180 billion in debt with the acquisitions of DirecTV and Time Warner Inc.

Despite a steady decline in TV subscribers, AT&T Chief Executive Officer Randall Stephenson has said the company’s top priority this year is to reduce debt. As part of that plan, he has been raising cash by selling holdings, including its stake in Hulu and its New York offices. The two deals fetched $3.6 billion in proceeds.

Ryder Cup, PGA Championship Digital Moves From Turner To NBC Sports

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Turner Sports really mailed in the final PGA Championship this year apparently with no plans to renew their deal handling the May majors’ website and after losing the first rounds on TNT to ESPN.

NBC Sports will now handle both Ryder Cup sites (let’s hope we end the silly separate sites) and the PGA Championship’s digital “activations”.

Coverage of the PGA Championship moves to ESPN and remains on CBS starting next year, while the Ryder Cup is on NBC and Golf Channel for the foreseeable future.

For Immediate Release:

PGA OF AMERICA & EUROPEAN TOUR JOIN FORCES WITH NBC SPORTS FOR GLOBAL RYDER CUP DIGITAL PLATFORMS

PGA of America and NBC Sports Partnership Also Includes Marquee PGA Championship Events

ORLANDO, Fla., (July 8, 2019) – A new, global Ryder Cup digital-media relationship has been formed by the PGA of America, European Tour and NBC Sports Group. NBC Sports will develop a multi-platform Ryder Cup presence, including a comprehensive website that serves fans of both the U.S. and European teams and a new app that will enhance both the onsite and overall viewing experience. The long-term relationship begins in advance of the 43rd Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin (Sept 25-27, 2020). The announcement was made today by Jeff Price, Chief Commercial Officer, PGA of America; Rufus Hack, Chief Content Officer, European Tour; and Will McIntosh, Executive Vice President, Digital & Sports Consumer Businesses, NBC Sports Group.

The PGA of America and the European Tour will lead the sales process through their Global Partner Program, and NBC Sports will develop and execute customized digital activations for partners. Digital content for these Ryder Cup platforms will be provided by all three organizations, as well as NBC Sports’ colleagues at Sky Sports, which is owned by Comcast.

“This is an important next step in expanding the global reach of the Ryder Cup,” said Price. “This relationship will allow us to deliver the best possible digital, social and emerging technology experiences to fans around the globe. It will also add significant value for global brands that want to participate in this iconic sporting event as part of their marketing mix.”

“The 2018 Ryder Cup in France saw more than 22 billion social media impressions across the week – the highest in the event’s history – and this exciting partnership with two of our key partners will allow us to expand the reach of our award-winning social and digital content to even greater numbers,” said Hack. “It is fantastic news for fans who follow the contest avidly and also for the many global brands who are associated with one of the world’s greatest sporting occasions.”

“As one of the biggest events on the global stage, the Ryder Cup inspires great pride and is a highlight every two years of NBC Sports’ golf calendar,” said McIntosh. “Building upon our comprehensive news and event coverage, NBC Sports Digital now will super-serve fans with engaging content and interactivity across multiple digital platforms, tapping into the passion NBC Sports and Sky Sports have for this unique event.” 

The Europeans were victorious in 2018 outside Paris with a decisive victory against the United States, extending their dominance on European soil for nearly three decades. The U.S. team, which has won two of the past three Ryder Cups hosted on U.S. soil, will be led in 2020 by Wisconsin native Steve Stricker as U.S. Captain, while Ireland’s Padraig Harrington will captain Europe. Next year’s Ryder Cup will be held at Whistling Straits (Straits Course) in Kohler, Wisconsin from September 25-27, 2020. Upcoming host sites include Marco Simone Golf & Country Club, Rome, Italy in 2022 and Bethpage Black, Farmingdale, New York in 2024. 

PGA OF AMERICA CHAMPIONSHIPS’ DIGITAL PLATFORMS:

Starting in 2020, NBC Sports Digital also will develop, power and operate the back-end service to three of the PGA of America’s championship branded websites, including for the PGA Championship, KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship and the PGA Professional Championship. Future PGA branded sites and their related products include:

  • 102nd PGA Championship, TPC Harding Park, San Francisco, May 10-17, 2020

  • KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship, Harbor Shores, Benton Harbor, Mich., May 18-24, 2020

  • 53rd PGA Professional Championship, Barton Creek Golf Resort, Austin, April 26-29, 2020

(Mid-Round) Interview: Rahm On Ireland Golf, How Blind Holes Can Simplify Things

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Tim Barter’s mid-round interviews for Sky Sports always remind that players respond well to good questions and that they are capable of sharing wisdom mid-round without threat to world peace or rankings points.

Jon Rahm’s comments about links golf and blind holes added to the immensely enjoyable day one proceedings from the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.

Rahm’s comment that blind holes simplifying things for the player could be the best reverse thinking and positivity I’ve ever heard from an elite player. Really neat:


Ratings: 1.5 For 2019 Rocket Mortgage Final Round, .6 For U.S. Senior Open

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The numbers sounds pretty low but given that they were competing, the NBA free agency frenzy had drawn a million viewers over to ESPN2, the overnights reported by SBD’s Austin Karp may not be that awful. Nate Lashley had a huge lead in the inaugural Rocket Mortgage and the U.S. Senior Open featured a five-hour final round telecast (why!).

Last week, the Travelers saw steep declines on CBS, reports Paulsen at Sports Media Watch.

Last Sunday’s final round of the PGA Tour Hartford Open earned a 1.4 rating and 2.17 million viewers on CBS, down 30% in both measures from last year (2.0, 3.09M), and down 39% and 38% respectively from 2017 (2.3, 3.50M). It was the lowest rated and least-watched final round of the tournament since 2016 (0.9, 1.42M).

Third round action had a 1.1 (-21%) and 1.53 million (-28%). Lead-in coverage on Golf Channel had a 0.36 (-27%) and 527,000 (-26%) on Saturday and a 0.42 (-19%) and 661,000 (-15%).

Open Coverage Plans: 50 Live Hours, Tom At Turnberry, Irish Flute Takes Over For Bagpipes

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Yanni’s been busy in the studio working with Irish flutists as bagpipers protest outside, as you’ll note in the trailer below. The NBC/Golf Channel plan for the 2019 Open Championship for Immediate Release:      

ORLANDO, Fla., (July 1, 2019) – In partnership with The R&A, NBC Sports Group announced its all-encompassing coverage plans for The 148TH Open, taking place July 18-21 at Royal Portrush Golf Club in Northern Ireland. NBC Sports will dedicate 410 total hours surrounding The Open, the most ever, with 200 hours of linear programming coupled with 210 complementary hours of streaming coverage, including featured holes and marquee groups. Spanning from Thursday’s opening tee shot through Sunday’s final putt, the network’s Emmy-nominated tournament coverage will feature nearly 50 live hours, annually the most live coverage hours from any golf event. 

Having covered The Open for 40 years collectively, Paul Azinger (2005-’15), Nick Faldo (2004-’07 & 2016-’18) and Mike Tirico (1997-2018) will contribute their extensive familiarity in calling golf’s original championship and be joined by the deepest and most-experienced roster of analysts, hosts, reporters and personalities in golf. The network’s live tournament and complementary coverage will feature in-depth perspective on the significance of The Open’s return to Northern Ireland for the first time since 1951, and for only the second time ever. This year, The Open also is being staged as the final men’s major championship of the year for the first time since 1971.

“The tradition that surrounds golf’s original championship takes on added significance this year with The Open returning to Northern Ireland for the first time in 68 years,” said Mike McCarley, president, Golf, NBC Sports Group. “Our extensive approach will feature an unprecedented amount of coverage, with live coverage from the first tee shot early Thursday morning through the final putt on Sunday evening. Leading up to The Open, our coverage will help set the stage with not only the competitive storylines, but also the cultural significance of Northern Ireland as host for just the second time in the 148-year history of The Open.”                                                               

Highlights of NBC Sports’ 410 Hours of Coverage Surrounding The 148TH Open: 

  • “Playing Through” Returns: Enhancing both the viewership and commercial experience, NBC Sports’ popular “Playing Through” split-screen commercial format returns for The Open, ensuring viewers don’t miss key stretches of the action during commercial breaks. During NBC Sports’ coverage of The Open at Carnoustie in 2018, an additional 181 shots of live golf were shown because of “Playing Through”.

  • Comprehensive News Coverage All Week: Called “the best 19th hole in television golf” by Golf Digest, Golf Central’s Live From The Open platform will headline nearly 70 hours of comprehensive news coverage from Royal Portrush, beginning Monday, July 15 at 9 a.m. ET. Morning Drive will complement the network’s news presence, including Midnight Drive, the show’s special 90-minute live pre-game show (Midnight-1:30 a.m. ET) that leads directly into the opening tee shot of The 148TH Open with GOLF Channel’s live coverage kicking off at 1:30 a.m. ET on Thursday morning.

  • GOLF Films’ Tom at Turnberry: Premiering on Monday, July 8 at 9 p.m. ET on GOLF Channel, Tom at Turnberry will commemorate the 10-year anniversary of Tom Watson’s unthinkable run (at age 59) at winning a sixth Claret Jug. On-site coverage during The Open also will feature a collection of GOLF Films “shorts,” to help tell the stories of The 148TH Open and Royal Portrush.

  • Vantage Point with Mike Tirico Originating from Royal Portrush on Tuesday, July 16: Complementing the network’s Golf Central Live From The Open coverage, a new episode of Vantage Point with Mike Tirico will premiere on Tuesday, July 16 at 9 p.m. ET, originating from Royal Portrush. The show will include a GOLF Films short from NBC Sports’ David Feherty on his native Northern Ireland, in addition to a remarkable story on efforts being made to help curb PTSD through golf at Waterville Golf Links in Ireland. Vantage Point also will welcome additional guests alongside Tirico to offer context surrounding golf’s original championship in its return to Northern Ireland for the first time in nearly seven decades. Next month also will mark Tirico’s 23rd consecutive year covering The Open, and in addition to Vantage Point he’ll also contribute to NBC Sports’ live tournament coverage.

  • The Men in Blazers Show at The Open Returns, Airing on NBCSN, July 17-21: NBC Sports’ critically-acclaimed The Men in Blazers – Roger Bennett and Michael Davies – are set to return to The Open for the second consecutive year, abandoning their Panic Room studio in the “crap part of SoHo” in Manhattan for a distant corner of Royal Portrush for a nightly show, Wednesday, July 17 through Sunday, July 22 on NBCSN. The nightly show will include featured guests, daily highlights, non-traditional stories and cultural elements from The Open presented in the duo’s signature, unconventional style. In addition to the nightly show on NBCSN from Royal Portrush, Rog and Davo will offer their unique takes on The Open through a series of features for NBC Sports’ overarching coverage.

  • David Feherty Vignettes Highlight Unique Aspects of The Open: A native of Northern Ireland, NBC Sports’ David Feherty will deliver a collection of his signature vignettes to highlight the underappreciated and perhaps overlooked aspects of The Open from a local’s perspective. Excursions for Feherty will include an education on the ancient game of Hurling, a sport of Gaelic and Irish origins; a journey to locate a proper source for traditional Irish music; and a morning spent at sea attempting to catch his breakfast. Other content elements will include a story on the 2007 Walker Cup team, and a recollection of Rory McIlroy’s course record-setting 61 at Royal Portrush as a 16-year-old.

  • Chronicles of a Champion Golfer: GOLF Channel will premiere new episodes of Chronicles of a Champion Golfer, a compelling series featuring first-person narratives of past Open champions. Airing on Tuesday nights at 9 p.m. ET, upcoming episodes include Jordan Spieth (July 2 – 2017 champion), and Johnny Miller (July 9 – 1976 champion). The full library of Chronicles of a Champion Golfer episodes are currently available on GOLFPASS, featuring Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Greg Norman, among others.

  • Golf’s Greatest Rounds: GOLF Channel will travel back in time with a collection of memorable Open Championships. Golf’s Greatest Rounds will relive the signature moments from past champions Darren Clarke (July 3 – 2011; Royal St. George’s), and Rory McIlroy (July 10 – 2014; Royal Liverpool).

  • AIRTMES FOR THE 148TH OPEN WEEK (All Times EST)

    Monday, July 15

    7-9 a.m.                                   Morning Drive

    9-11 a.m.                                 Golf Central Live From The Open

    11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.                  Sky Sports – On The Range  

    7-9 p.m.                                   Golf Central Live From The Open

    9-10 p.m.                                 The Road to Royal Portrush

    Tuesday, July 16

    6-10 a.m. / Noon-2 p.m.         Golf Central Live From The Open

    10 a.m.-Noon                          Morning Drive

    9-10 p.m.                                 Vantage Point with Mike Tirico

    Wednesday, July 17

    6-10 a.m. / Noon-2 p.m.         Golf Central Live From The Open

    10 a.m.-Noon                          Morning Drive

    11-11:30 p.m.                         The Men in Blazers (NBCSN)

    Thursday, July 18

    Midnight-1:30 a.m.                 Midnight Drive

    1:30 a.m.-4 p.m.                      The Open – First Round

    4-5 p.m.                                   Golf Central Live From The Open

    11-11:30 p.m.                         The Men in Blazers (NBCSN)

    Friday, July 19

    1:30-4 p.m.                             The Open – Second Round

    4-5 p.m.                                   Golf Central Live From The Open

    11-11:30 p.m.                         The Men in Blazers (NBCSN)

    Saturday, July 20

    5-7 a.m.                                   The Open – Third Round

    7-11 a.m.                                 Golf Central Live From The Open

    7 a.m.-3 p.m.                           The Open – Third Round (NBC)

    3-4 p.m.                                   Golf Central Live From The Open

    1-1:30 a.m.                              The Men in Blazers (NBCSN, Saturday Overnight)

    Sunday, July 21

    4-7 a.m.                                   The Open – Final Round      

    7-9:45 a.m.                              Golf Central Live From The Open

    7 a.m.-2 p.m.                           The Open – Final Round (NBC)

    2-4 p.m.                                   Golf Central Live From The Open

    10-10:30 p.m.                         The Men in Blazers (NBCSN)

LPGA's Whan Still Yearning To Get His Tour More Broadcast Network Airtime

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Intriguing stance by Commish Mike Whan’s in believing network television is still the place to get more notoriety and purse growth for the LPGA Tour. From Beth Ann Nichols’ Golfweek story posted after Whan discussed the close on a two-year Golf Channel extension and the PGA Tour’s involvement in handling negotiations:

Whan points to current No. 1 Jin Young Ko as a prime example.

“If you gave me 39 weekends a year, I promise you I could make you love Jin Young Ko,” said Whan. “You’re going to get to know her story and swing. You see her five times a year, she’s just a name I can’t pronounce. That’s a shame. If you give me 39 weeks there’s a lot of guys on the PGA Tour I wouldn’t care about.… When they become people you know, you want to watch them.”

However, as the Nichols story points out, the U.S. Women’s Open on Fox was outdrawn by NBC network broadcasts of the Augusta National Women’s Amateur and the Diamond Resorts TOC, with strong Golf Channel and promotional tie-ins on other NBC outlets, suggesting that a mere broadcast network presence isn’t enough.

It’s also hard to see a broadcast network taking on the LPGA Tour at the PGA Tour’s negotiating insistence when even PGA Tour events do not all get broadcast network coverage. Seems obvious who will get priority in negotiations, but stranger things have happened.

LPGA, Golf Channel Near Two-Year Extension, What Does It Mean?

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Randall Mell says the “finishing touches” are in the works for an LPGA Tour television extension with Golf Channel that would extend the current deal.

“We're in the final stages of completing a two-year extension, pretty much as is,” LPGA commissioner Mike Whan told reporters Friday at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.

A Golf Channel spokesman confirmed Whan’s announcement.

Whan confirmed that the PGA Tour has led the LPGA’s TV negotiations, as part of a strategic alliance agreement struck between the tours in 2016.

This sets the LPGA up to be part of the PGA Tour’s next television contract negotiations, likely benefiting from the ability to be included as part of the bidding. Though to what extent the PGA Tour will prioritize the LPGA in packaging, scheduling and inclusion in deals remains to be seen. Whichever networks interested in taking on PGA Tour coverage will almost surely have to take on other (less or not profitable) tours as well.

Current PGA Tour contracts with CBS, NBC and Golf Channel expire at the end of 2021. This sets in motion the likelihood of negotiations beginning in earnest with prospective bidders.

Classic Sports TV's Count Of 2019 U.S. Open Shots Shown By Fox

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As he always does, Jeff Haggar at Classic TV Sports tracked all of the shots shown by Fox during the 2019 U.S. Open final round coverage.

He started about 30 minutes before the leaders teed off to maintain some consistency with other major telecasts. Fox showed 1.17 shots per minute, down a touch from the 1.24 shown at Shinnecock Hills. But Fox appeared to do the leaders justice and also show a good number of players contending.

He also tracked holes shown the most. Check it out here.

For comparison to prior majors, see this table with links to all of Haggar’s charts since 2014.

Q&A With Israel DeHerrera On Hogan The Documentary

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Debuting Monday and Tuesday June 17-19 at 9 pm ET, Golf Films looks at the life and legend of Ben Hogan.

With limited commercial interruption thanks to sponsor Charles SchwabHogan is narrated by Emmy Award-winning actor Kyle Chandler, and produced for 13-time Emmy Award winner Israel DeHerrera. He answered some questions about how the film came together.

GS: Let’s talk genesis of this film. How long has this been in the works and what was the goal in tackling such a complicated figure?

ID: Was sitting around wondering what was going to be next and was nosing around on YouTube and found an interview Hogan did with Ken Venturi at the 1983 Colonial. It was only about 12 minutes long, but I was immediately transfixed. He spoke in a staccato tone that had me hanging on every word. So I dug deeper and read Curt Sampson's biography. I read it cover to cover in two days and knew that we really needed to try and bring this story into a visual documentary form.

The film has been two years in the making but that coincides with the release of two other films that debuted last year and five others that are currently in production.

GS: When did your fascination with Hogan begin?

ID: When I saw the Commercials for Hogan apex irons in the early 1990's. Seeing Hogan in that yellow sweater at Riviera taking full swings was just mystical.

Q: What is your best interview get and person you most wished you could have interviewed and did not?

ID: Best interview was Curt Sampson. He was our Shelby Foote. We also sat down with Ben's niece Jacque Hogan. It was pretty cool to get a first person account of the accident and the recovery as well as the Hogan family history

Person I wished I could of interviewed is pretty easy…Hogan!

Q: Craziest place or effort made to research Hogan?

ID: We went everywhere: Dublin, Texas, Glen Garden G.C, Shady Oaks, Colonial, Riviera
Carnoustie Scotland, Merion GC, Cherry Hills, et cetera.

But finding the Hogan collectors was HUGE. John Seidenstein of Fort Worth and Mark Baron of San Diego are Hogan freaks. They both have massive collections and exhibits in their homes dedicated to Hogan. We are always looking to add additional layers and give these films a present day feel and this really helped

Q: There are reenactments in the film. Tell us what goes into the thinking on those and is there consternation given in using them given how strong the visuals and storytelling is with a subject like Hogan?

ID: This was a difficult decision. There simply was not enough footage of Hogan's career to be able to tell the story we wanted to tell so we decided to do re-enactments. We found Christo Garcia who spent five years of his life dedicating himself to copying Hogan's swing. We wanted to be as genuine as possible so we flew him to Shady Oaks for a shoot and to Merion to shoot there on the East Course. That said, I was very conscious of that fact that having someone trying to replicate Hogan’s swing was sacrilegious, so we only tried to use tight shots of hands, legs, shoulders etc. We tried to avoid showing an entire full swing.

Hogan’s childhood was another reason we needed to do re-creations. There are only of handful of photos of Ben during his childhood. I am very happy with how these turned out. We spent many hours casting, blocking, searching for the proper locations, actors, props etc. and I think it shows during the childhood scenes and the famous caddie tournament he played against Byron Nelson at Glen Garden. We also rented out an old house in LA to shoot his re-creations of his recovery from the accident.

GS: : Thing that most surprised you about Hogan in your research?

ID: I have to give credit to Curt Sampson here. He really did all the heavy lifting in terms of research and brought Hogan to life for a generation of fans when he released his biography in the late 1990’s. Our goal was to do the best possible job in bringing him to life in a visual documentary form that will hopefully engage and give birth to a whole new audience.

I was just surprised at how difficult this man’s life really was. I knew a little bit about Hogan but not everything. Charles Dickens and Oliver Twist had it easy compared to this guy. He is just an amazing story of perseverance.

How The FOX Drones Are Getting Such Amazing Views At Pebble Beach

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I chatted with Fox Sports’ director Steve Biem Sunday for this Golfweek story to better understand how the Kaze Aerial team is getting the remarkable drone images from the 2019 U.S. Open, as well as an audible with the new FlightTrack tracer covering the 6th tee shot and now, the 17th.

It was fascinating to hear about the adjustments made to get where they are, which is providing us views like we’ve never seen before.

U.S. Open Viewing Tip Sheet And What To Expect From Pebble Beach

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Your most vital piece of information sits above, with the Fox schedule with ET times. Look at those prime time windows. Have I mentioned that California U.S. Opens are just better? Oh, anyway…

The Forecaddie previews a new twist on Toptracer technology from Fox Sports next week. Sounds like we will need players to go for the 14th green in two if we want to see in all its glory. And the live drone should be great fun getting the seagulls view of the action!

Golf Channel will provide plenty of programming as well, starting with Monday’s World Golf Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony followed by Morning Drive and Live From the U.S. Open coverage all week. You will note in their release my name attached to two features: one on poa annua and another Chandler Egan’s 1929 redesign of the course and whether it needs to be restored. I hope you enjoy the pieces and I’ll do my best to make sure to preview when they will air.

It’s going to be a stellar week from the Monterey Peninsula!

For Immediate Release from Fox Sports:

FOX SPORTS CONTINUES PRODUCTION TECHNOLOGY EVOLUTION 
FOR 119TH U.S. OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP

Tethered Drone, Operates from a Boat off the Northern California Coastline,

To Offer Unique Views of Pebble Beach

LOS ANGELES – FOX Sports continues its industry-leading production technology development, with additions and upgrades in place for its coverage of the 119th U.S. Open Championship from Pebble Beach Golf Links in Pebble Beach, Calif., from Thursday, June 13 to Sunday, June 16 on FOX, FS1, FOX Deportes, FOXSports.com and the FOX Sports App.

"We are planning our most comprehensive and technologically advanced U.S. Open to date, matching the excitement level surrounding the championship being held at iconic Pebble Beach,” said Zac Fields, SVP Graphic Tech & Innovation, FOX Sports. “We’re constantly improving the viewing experience of this great event and the FOX Sports team is excited to offer viewers more dynamic experiences from the golf course than ever before.” 

FOX Sports remains at the forefront of ball-tracing technology in 2019, as the network equips the tee box on all 18 holes with Trackman radar technology. Nine holes are equipped to show viewers a standard ball-trace over live video, with enhanced club and ball data. The remaining nine holes will display Emmy-nominated FOX FlightTrack, a live trace over a graphic representation of the golf hole, offering more perspective to the viewer. All 18 holes will have the ability to insert a real-time live carry distance. 

Three roaming wireless RF tracers will work to provide ball tracing on approach shots. There will also be FlightTrack for fairways shots on two holes, Nos. 6 and 14. New this year will be a mobile tower camera equipped with Toptracer technology, also positioned on No. 14, allowing for more dynamics within the shot. Unlike most tracer shots, where the camera must remain still, this camera will allow FOX Sports to pan, tilt and zoom to see the ball as it comes towards the camera. 

Just a few weeks ago, FOX Sports’ Shane Bacon and Joel Klatt played a round at Pebble Beach and discussed No. 14’s difficult approach and tough green, offering insights on what to expect from the pros at the U.S. Open: https://vimeo.com/340574507

FOX Sports’ image capture continues to evolve at the U.S. Open, with the most 1080p HDR cameras in place for any live event in the U.S. ever, placing over 50 cameras across the course, and in each tower camera and blimp to help capture the stunning beauty of Pebble Beach. 

Alongside this technology is the new penalty area camera system, which houses three cameras for over 210 degrees of capture alongside the out of bounds markers at holes Nos. 4 and 5.

As FOX Sports has done since its USGA debut in 2015, live replay coverage of the event continues to capture every camera across the course simultaneously with 178 record channels and 54 playout channels. 

A Pebble Beach first, FOX Sports will deploy a live tethered-aerial drone camera to be launched and operated from a boat along the coastline at Pebble Beach, giving the viewer unique live action on the course.

In addition to its television broadcast and featured groups and holes streams, this year FOX Sports introduces a new “USGA Practice Tee” channel, which is focused on the driving range and uses Toptracer Range technology for added insight as players warm up. Fans at Pebble Beach will see players’ shots being traced on LED boards at the range, while the broadcast and all streaming channels will be able to go into greater detail on swing technique, ball flight and more. Streaming feeds are available on FOXSports.com, the FOX Sports App, DirecTV and USGA.org.

Continuing to develop elements in augmented reality (AR) that offer viewers greater context, FOX Sports will be using various shots from multiple blimps and cranes to layer graphics on top of video, including, but not limited to, wind direction and speed, player on-course location and course statistics.

In addition to the new “USGA Practice Tee” channel, the “Featured Holes” channel gets an upgrade for 2019. Data from Trackman units on these holes will be displayed on the streaming feeds in real-time. Viewers will see data for live shots along with more advanced statistics throughout the championship.

In preparation for this week’s event, multiple days of aerial production drone flights were completed last week, capturing unique images from each of the 18 holes.

Staff & Support

  • 455 technicians

  • 72 support staff

  • 66,000+ man-hours over 15 days

  • Field Support

    • 51 miles of multi-strand fiber optics (over 1,872 miles of actual fiber connectivity)

    • 912 strands of fiber optics available across the course

    • IP Networking

      • 1,056 1Gbps Ethernet ports distributed across the course

      • 28 managed network locations

      • 94 distinct managed networks

      • 6 Gbps of Internet data managed

      • 78 Gbps of broadcast data managed

  • Cameras

    • 121 Total Cameras

      • 18 – 1080p wireless cameras

        • 6 – 1080p HDR wireless cameras

      • 52 – 1080p HDR cameras

      • 12 – 100x lens-based cameras

      • 19 – 95x lens-based cameras

      • 5 – Xmo High-frame-rate cameras (4,000+ fps)

      • 2 – Sony – 8x – High-frame-rate cameras (480fps)

      • 4 – Cinematic Cameras with FOX Films look

      • 3 – RF Tracer cameras

      • 2 – Mini portable robotic cameras

      • 75’ Strada Camera Crane

  • Audio

    • 12 audio consoles

    • 232 microphones across the course

      • 8 RF announcers

      • 18 hole microphones

      • 20 RF walking microphones 

  • Replay / Post Production

    • 178 Record Channels

    • 54 Playout Channels

    • 768 TB real-time storage

    • 5 Edit Bays

Revised: U.S. Women's Open Final Round Draws Just A .5

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Paulsen at Sports Media Watch waits for the final rating (not the overnight) and it’s an all-time low for the 2019 U.S. Women’s Open.

The fall of this event in terms of viewership from the Sorenstam days is shocking:

As recently as three years ago, final round coverage had a comparably healthy 0.9 and 1.31 million. Five years ago, when Michelle Wie won, the final round had a 1.4 and 2.04 million on NBC. Thirteen years ago, when Annika Sörenstam last won, ratings and viewership reached as high as 3.1 and 4.28 million.

Keep in mind that coverage aired directly opposite the final round of the PGA Tour Memorial tournament, which featured Tiger Woods (2.1, 2.96M). While last year’s coverage also faced the Memorial, the PGA Tour event aired primarily on tape delay due to rain.

The final round was no match for the corresponding days of the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur (0.9, 1.36M) or last year’s Women’s British Open (0.7, 964K).

Ratings: 2019 Memorial Scores 1.7 Final Round, U.S. Women's Open's .6 Pushing All Time Low

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Tiger Woods in contention helped bump up the Memorial ratings 33% over last year, with a 1.7 overnight according to Sports Business Daily.

The U.S. Women’s Open’s overnight from CC of Charleston was a .6, up just a tiny bit over a similar .6 last year and continuing a trend of hovering around record lows since the move to Fox. This, despite being commercial free broadcasts.

Chuck May Want To Talk To Chuck After Somber Colonial Kickoff

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All longtime golf fans are grateful to Charles Schwab for rescuing the Colonial, even if it meant wiping the club’s name off the iconic title in favor of the forgettable Charles Schwab Challenge. Then again, had they left Colonial in the title, we’d all still just call it the Colonial. And may still.

But the longtime supporter of golf might be scratching his head a bit after year one of a four year deal even after a perfectly normal PGA Tour event. A fascinating mix of leaders were extinguished by Kevin Na’s closing 66 only to have Na immediately give away quite possibly the most clever winner gift in some time: a restored Dodge Challenger. Mike McAllister reports for PGATour.com.

Granted, Na did pledge before the tournament started to gift the car to Harms, who deserves more than an iconic American sports car for carrying Na’s bag(gage):

But the keys handoff did lead to that gloriously awkward winner’s photo with the car, Harms, Schwab and Na, along with a tournament official in the back left expressing only minor agony.

Adding to the awkwardness of the day: a subdued CBS telecast marked by multiple shots from the clouds (aka blimp), the dreaded bereavement track, and tributes to legends lost like Dan Jenkins, Bart Starr, etc. Still, the general somberness became more apparent when Jim Nantz and Nick Faldo were shown at the 18th before a tribute to “retiring” CBS workers was shown.

The tribute was quite touching, with Nantz refusing to sugarcoat the situation while Faldo’s eyes watered and turned red as they discussed the role of the many talented craftspeople losing their jobs. Excuse me, retiring. In mass. All in the same week.

As they introduced the primary crew members and some of the great moments covered or lengthy tenures, it was obviously a huge blow to the CBS Sports team.

While words like retirement and voluntary were bandied about, we all know what this is about, as telegraphed a couple of months ago:

Cost cutting moves: CBS is looking for about $100 million in cost savings in the next three years from belt-tightening and restructuring in search of greater efficiencies. That process could lead to streamlining of redundant operations and voluntary employee buyouts. “We reorganizing and thinking about functions that go across multiple divisions,” Ianniello said.

If it were any other corporate leader than Schwab—who has seen just about everything in golf—I’m guessing phone calls would be made, inquiries made and questions asked about so many layoffs in the midst of the golf season—with a mid-telecast tribute—and at a time the CBS schedule is at full force.

So Chuck probably won’t have to talk to Chuck. But if he were miffed at how year one played out, no one would blame him.